Games don’t get much better than those with distinct stylistic clashes. Look no further than Tuesday’s game between Snider and Columbia City for that.
There were a lot of good games on the schedule Tuesday but if you look towards Homestead and Carroll, you’ll see that they ended up pretty lopsided. The styles of each of their opponents from the NE8 meshed close enough to the styles of the Spartans and the Chargers that once the gap was built, it was going to be hard to change a pace or change an outcome. That simply wasn’t the case at Snider as the Panthers hosted the Eagles in what could very easily end up being the best game in the area all season.
In the end, there was just enough Columbia City to pull off the 55-50 win, one that means little for anything other than early season momentum. But it’s a lot of early season momentum to strike down what will again develop to be a really dangerous and deadly Snider program.
There was a time late in the first half that it looked like Columbia City’s style was too much. Sure Snider was pressuring the ball and sometimes pressing in the full court, but patience and reading the court was winning out for the Eagles. After a pretty back and forth first quarter where neither team gained much of an advantage in score or momentum, the Eagles’ edge in the second flowed so well. They found their way out of the full court pressure, seeing their way to long skip passes that sometimes even presented 2-on-1 situations in the front court. Columbia City though never really forced anything with the advantage, constantly passing up good shots for great shots later in the possession.
It was that extra pass or two that really opened a gap for the Eagles late in the first half. Feed the post, work it back outside, swing the ball, make an extra pass and boom, there is a three pointer. It happened time and time again as the Eagles flexed their style strong. Patience and the three ball is big in high school basketball and Columbia City proved Tuesday night they can do that over and over again.
The Eagles also peppered the first half with big offensive rebounding that would give them second or third chances to work the ball and win scrambles to lead to open threes from the likes of Kyndra Sheets and Tessa Tonkel.
The second half saw Snider’s style win. It didn’t take long to erase the 10 point halftime deficit with that pressure and run and gun acumen of the Panthers. Their press was tighter and caused more chaos, forcing the Eagles to get off shots that weren’t on par with their first half selection and came far too early in possessions. Considering that Snider seemed to fix what had ailed them on the defensive glass, those early possession Eagle three point attempts fell flat. So Snider charged back with Jordyn Poole simply taking over, out quicking everyone to the rim and mixing in pull up or step back jumpers. Once the Eagles got drawn into Poole more, it was easier for Snider to get more people involved with great backdoor cuts and post feeds.
All of the sudden the game was back to neck and neck just because Snider’s intensity put so much pressure on Columbia City, it looked like the Eagles couldn’t even catch their breath.
Poole’s buzzer beating three pointer in the third to make it a 48-44 game in Columbia City’s favor was a huge momentum burst for the Panthers.
Credit to for Snider’s defense and not just in the full court press. Once Columbia City’s three pointers weren’t falling, they had to go back to a game with getting to the rim. They had some success with it in both halfs and I won’t say they didn’t. But the interior defense of Snider’s Tia Phinezy was stout. I’m not sure how many blocks she actually ended up with but it had to have felt like dozens to Columbia City at the times they tried and failed to convert at the rim. Those blocks weren’t just big, they were emphatic, often knocking the shooter to the floor just due to her pure force on the ball when blocking it.
It all culminated in a great game tied at 48 for what seemed like forever. Both teams offensive execution was good tied at 48 but the defenses seemed better.
Tessa Tonkel got what proved to be the winning basket for the Eagles. Down 50-49, the Eagles swung the ball to the top of the key and Tonkel cut from the left corner to get wide open under the basket where Addison Baxter found her for a reverse layup with just under a minute to play. It was a great close for the Eagles after a great game.
Sheets led Columbia City with 13 points, joined in double figures by Baxter’s 11. The Eagles hit just five three pointers in the game, but they were the most impactful shots of the entire contest. Baxter added seven rebounds and four steals for the Eagles.
Snider saw Poole lead them with a game high 18 points while Ciara Sims added 10.
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