By Maurice Patton
NASHVILLE – Columbia Academy suffered through a rough start Saturday and never recovered, as the Bulldogs’ season ended with a 72-55 Division II-A Middle Region Tournament quarterfinal loss to host Donelson Christian.
Opening the game with four straight possessions without a field goal attempt set a dubious tone for the visitors, seeded third out of District 3, and CA trailed 11-2 before the halfway point of the opening quarter.
“We weren’t getting anything going,” junior wing Drew Butt said after scoring a team-high 19 points in the defeat. “We weren’t moving like we were supposed to. Anytime you’re stagnant on offense like that, you can expect that kind of start.
“We weren’t in a rhythm. No excuses. We didn’t get it done.”
Columbia Academy’s struggles were in sharp contrast to the Wildcats, who got 36 points from senior guard Ben Singer en route to the win and a Sunday semifinal matchup with Christ Presbyterian Academy.
“It was such a ‘quiet’ 36,” DCA coach Nate Johnson said. “He’s steady, efficient. He doesn’t take bad shots. He’s hard to guard, smart. He makes us go.”
Singer scored nine in the first period as the Wildcats grabbed a 19-8 lead, then knocked in a pair of 3-pointers to help push the margin to 27-12 four minutes into the second quarter.
Columbia Academy (19-8) had no answer.
“It was frustrating to watch,” CA coach Marty DeJarnette said regarding the Bulldogs’ overall performance. “It looked like we were in quicksand in the first quarter. You’re digging a hole, and you try to claw your way out, and the walls cave in on you.
“Turnovers were a problem early. I don’t know that if was nerves, but something wasn’t right. We weren’t in sync. The long layoff? I don’t know. But we weren’t right from the start. You could feel it.”
A 37-23 halftime deficit was never less than double digits the rest of the way. Donelson Christian (19-5) answered a Butt 3-pointer, which made it a 41-28 game at the 4:28 mark of the third period, with a 7-2 spurt that kept the ‘Cats comfortably ahead.
“We let them get rolling and they fed off each other,” DeJarnette said. “They never let us back in it. Every time we made a run, they had an answer.
“We did everything we could. It just wasn’t our night. The energy was never there.”
Donelson Chr. boys 72, Columbia Acad. 55
C 8 15 13 19 — 55
D 19 18 13 22 — 72
Columbia Acad. (55) – Tanner Ham 10, Chase Duncan 5, Hayden Morgan 3, Drew Butt 19, Will Jackson 4, Andre McClellan 7, Griffin Cooper 7
Donelson Chr. (72) – Ben Singer 36, Jude Charlton 7, Jon Lewis 8, Riley Stanton 9, Max Frazier 3, Blake Anderson 9
3-pointers – Columbia Acad. 6 (Ham 2, Duncan, Morgan, Butt, McClellan), Donelson Chr. 4 (Singer 2, Frazier, Anderson)