EATON TWP. — The unbeaten Columbia Raiders showed they can dominate in all phases of the game Friday in a 68-50 win over Amherst in the first round of the Bob DiFranco Memorial Holiday Tournament at Midview High School.
Taking nearly three times as many 3-point attempts (26) as 2-pointers (nine) through three quarters, the Raiders (7-0) built a 46-37 lead with eight minutes to play.
But when Matt Kneisel converted a three-point play and Adam Srnis made a free throw, the Comets (4-3) cut the lead to five with 7:28 left.
The mini-run only seemed to fire up the Raiders, who sandwiched 3-pointers by Jacob Simon and Zach Stopper around a long jumper by Brandon Severo. With Columbia’s lead suddenly back up to 13, the Comets called timeout.
Columbia knew defensive changes were coming and responded accordingly. Guard Jay Banyasz launched a three-quarter court pass to Stopper for a fast-break layup with five minutes left and 30 seconds later Simon drove the floor for another.
The 13-point streak effectively put the game in the win column for the Raiders, who play Midview for the championship tonight at 7:30.
“They got us out high with their zone and we were having some problems with it,” Columbia coach Larry Babics said. “But once we overloaded the side we got some good looks. And our guys are confident shooters. If they miss 20, they’ll shoot 20 more.
“We knew they were going to go to full-court pressure,” Babics added. “That pass was kind of our home run play. Jay is our football quarterback and we knew he could make that pass. It worked out well tonight.”
The Raiders kept the offensive pressure on after that. Shifting over to a fast transition game, they scored three more times off layups, or went to the line for free throws to put the game away.
Columbia made 11 of 31 3-pointers while making just 10-of-16 inside the arc. Simon led the way with 33 points, including five threes, while Severo added 13 points, including three 3-pointers. Stopper finished with 10 points.
Simon doubled his average in his best offensive game of the season.
“Jay Banyasz was creating great shots for me and I just kept taking them,” Simon said. “It worked out. We wanted to gun it at the end. We knew they would pressure us, so we just ran.
“We played a great game. We wanted to make a statement for our community and school against a D-1 school. It was nice to win.”
The Raiders weren’t too shabby on defense either, holding Amherst to 10 third-quarter points while their own offense was struggling.
“I honestly think it was our defense that got us going in the second half,” Babics said.
The Comets didn’t seem out of the game until the last four minutes, but coach John Srnis didn’t see it that way.
“We never were really into it tonight,” he said. “We started out bad. I thought they beat us on both ends — offensively and defensively. They were better than us, quicker than us. We didn’t do anything we wanted to coming in and just weren’t ready to play.”
The Comets had a pair of 13-point scorers in senior Nick Glowacki and junior Garrett Klekota.
Contact Jim Jablonski at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Columbia 68, Amherst 50
COLUMBIA (68): Jacob Simon 11-6-33, Brandon Severo 4-2-13, Jay Banyasz 2-3-9, Kevin Simon 1-0-2, Zach Stopper 3-3-10, Michael Boey 0-0-0, David Delahunty 0-1-1, Jesse Lambert 0-0-0, Tyler Edmiston 0-0-0. Totals 21-15-68.
AMHERST (50): Nick Glowacki 4-4-13, Garrett Klekota 6-1-13, Matt Kneisel 4-1-9, Adamm Srnis 2-1-7, Anthony Eliopoulos 0-0-0, Danny Fortney 1-0-2, Rees Rua 3-0-6, Eric Lamb 0-0-0. Totals 20-7-50.
Columbia 17 15 14 22 — 68
Amherst 11 16 10 13 — 50
Three-point goals: Columbia 11-31, (J. Simon 5, Silvero 3, Banyasz 2, Stopper), Amherst 3-8 (Srnis 2, Glowacki). Field goals: Columbia 21-47 (45 percent), Amherst 20-48 (42 percent). Free throws: Columbia 15-18 (83 percent), Amherst 7-8 (88 percent). Rebounds: Columbia 29, Amherst 27. Turnovers: Columbia 12, Amherst 15. Total fouls: Columbia 13, Amherst 12.