COLUMBIA STATION — This one was close for about five minutes.
Both Columbia and visiting Jeromesville Hillsdale came out struggling in their Division IV sectional semifinal game Wednesday night. But once the Raiders starting hitting some shots, the game quickly turned into a rout.
Holding Hillsdale to just four points in the first half and eight through three quarters, the second-seeded Raiders pulled away for a 45-17 victory and advanced to Saturday’s sectional championship against third-seeded Lake Ridge Academy.
Columbia (16-6) had to re-adjust when Hillsdale (2-19) came out doubling sophomore Alison Schafer, the Raiders’ leading scorer. But freshman Becca Tacchite gave her team a spark off the bench with a game-high 11 points, including two 3-pointers.
“They came out in a triangle and put two players on Alison,” Columbia coach Tom Thompson said. “It caught us by surprise. I think our players realized that they were going to have to score with the basketball – it wasn’t just going to come from her. It was a good, tactical move on the part of Hillsdale.
“But we got a couple other kids going, and that kind of loosened some things up. Hillsdale had to adjust to that as well.”
Tacchite’s 3-pointer with 1:52 left in the first quarter – her first bucket of the game – kick-started an 18-0 run that turned a 7-2 lead into a 25-2 advantage with four minutes remaining in the first half. She accounted for 10 of those 18 points.
“She gave us a spark, and she’s done that throughout the course of the year,” Thompson said. “She’s got that shooter mentality. She’s aggressive going to the basket. There’s an example of a player who has grown throughout the year and felt a little more comfortable as the season’s gone on.”
The Raiders held Hillsdale without a point from the 2:29 mark in the first quarter until there was 3:20 left in the first half. Both points were scored by Adrianna Rogers, who led the Falcons with eight points.
Schafer eventually got freed up and finished with 10 points, including two 3-pointers. Her pair of free throws with 26.8 seconds left capped a 28-4 first half, and her final bucket – a 3-pointer – gave the Raiders a 36-6 lead late in the third quarter.
“(Schafer) scores two-thirds of their points consistently every game, so we knew we had to shut her down,” Hillsdale coach Amanda LaYacona said. “Unfortunately, we let (Tacchite) score too many buckets tonight. We can’t do that. I thought Laura Yeater did a fine job on (Schafer) tonight.
“Going into the second half when (Schafer) was out, we put Laura on (Tacchite) and she shut her down in the second half. But that point, it was way too late.”
The Raiders held Hillsdale to just 21 percent shooting (8-for-40). In the first three quarters, in which Columbia led 36-8, the Falcons only shot 4-of-25 (16 percent) from the floor while committing 17 of their 22 turnovers.
Columbia also outrebounded Hillsdale, 42-26, with Shelby Friedel pulling down a game-high nine boards.
“We were outstanding defensively,” Thompson said. “We needed to come out and dictate what we wanted to happen and take charge from the beginning. I think we kind of did that. Defensively, it was pretty evident that we were ready to come out and play aggressive.
“We saw them against Rittman a week ago, and we were preparing our kids that they were going to be more physical than some of the other teams in (the Patriot Athletic Conference) and to be ready for that. I think that kind of helped us out, too.”
Amy Mirecki and reserve Alexis Bycznski each added six points to help the Raiders advance.
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Columbia 45, Hillsdale 17
HILLSDALE (17): Adrianna Rogers 4-0-8, Melissa Huffman 1-0-3, Laura Yeater 0-0-0, Amanda Garn 0-0-0, Megan Poynter 0-0-0, Kaylee Crossen 2-0-4, Sarah Lifer 1-0-2, Morgan Fox 0-0-0. Totals 8-0-17.
COLUMBIA (45): Alison Schafer 3-2-10, Amy Mirecki 3-0-6, Emily Viccarone 1-2-4, Taylor Napoli 1-0-2, Shelby Friedel 0-0-0, Becca Tacchite 3-3-11, Alexis Bycznski 2-2-6, Rachel Tacchite 1-0-2, McKenna Heidecker 2-0-4, Tessa Quinn 0-0-0, Lexi Wood 0-0-0, Jessica Paletta 0-0-0, Torrie Shields 0-0-0. Totals 16-9-45.
Hillsdale 2 2 4 8 — 17
Columbia 18 10 8 9 — 45
Three-point goals: Hillsdale 1-8 (Huffman), Columbia 4-12 (B. Tacchite 2, Schafer 2); Field goals: Hillsdale 8-40 (21 percent), Columbia 16-51 (31 percent); Free throws: Hillsdale 0-6 (0 percent), Columbia 9-15 (60 percent); Rebounds: Hillsdale 26 (Garn 5), Columbia 42 (Friedel 9, Schafer 5); Turnovers: Hillsdale 22, Columbia 14; Total fouls: Hillsdale 13, Columbia 11.