PAINESVILLE — Columbia came close to mounting a comeback for the ages, but the initial hole the Raiders dug for themselves turned out to be just a little too deep.
Columbia trailed by 22 points with 4:49 remaining in the third period, then rallied to pull within one late before finally falling to Gilmour Academy 58-56 in the Division III district semifinal at Harvey High School.
The fourth-seeded Raiders (21-3), who played a fast-paced offense all season, were out of sorts in the first two quarters. They scored just two points in the first period and trailed 33-12 at halftime.
“We were playing passive, looking for the good shot,” Columbia guard Jay Banyasz said. “But that’s not the type of ball we’ve played all year. We’ve always just let it fly. I guess we were a little nervous, but I don’t know. We just didn’t play like ourselves in the first half.”
The second-seeded Lancers (21-3) increased their lead to 39-14 early in the third quarter before the Raiders went on a small run to cut it to 41-19 with 4:49 left in the quarter.
That’s when the Raiders finally woke up. They went on a 9-2 run to end the third, then opened the fourth on a 9-3 run to pull within nine.
Columbia outscored Gilmour Academy 28-15 in the fourth quarter and actually pulled within 57-56 with 9.9 seconds left in the game.
After Will Sullivan split a pair of free throws to increase the Gilmour lead to 58-56, the Raiders had a clean look at the basket, but a 3-point attempt by Banyasz from the left wing fell short and the Lancers were able to run out the clock.
“I’m really proud of them for the second half, but at the same time I’m upset at them for the first half,” Columbia coach Larry Babics said. “For whatever reason we came out timid and scared. We only took 10 shots in the first half. We ever take 10 shots in a half, even 10 shots in a quarter, we’re going to lose.
“I don’t want to take anything away from Gilmour, they came out and played good defense, but this was something I hadn’t seen in 24 games. It’s disappointing. I think it was a little bit of nerves. We talked about it and everyone has nerves at the beginning of the game, but you have to wash those away and be the aggressor.
“We just weren’t the aggressor in the first half, and everything that could have went wrong did go wrong.”
Zach Stopper led the Raiders with 18 points while Banyasz added 16 and Jacob Simon 15.
“We didn’t quit,” Banyasz said. “The coaches looked at us in the locker room at halftime and asked if this was how we wanted to go out. It was unanimous that it wasn’t. We were a lot better than we showed. It was unacceptable to play a half like that and expect to recover. But we did a heck of a job trying to.”
David Linane led Gilmour Academy with 22 points, 15 of them coming in the first half.
“You just can’t bury yourself,” Babics said. “Regular season, postseason ... you just can’t bury yourself. You never know if you are going to run out of time.”
Gilmour Academy 58, Columbia 56
COLUMBIA (56): Jay Banyasz 3-7-16, Jacob Simon 5-3-15, Kevin Simon 1-0-2, Zach Stopper 6-5-18, Brandon Severo 0-0-0, Michael Boey 0-0-0, David Delahunty 2-0-5, Joe Palmer 0-0-0. Totals 17-15-56.
GILMOUR ACADEMY (58): Charlie Sullivan 2-4-9, Donte Wallette 1-0-2, Colin Zucker 3-3-9, David Linane 7-7-22, A.J. Wright 3-3-9, Will Sullivan 1-1-3, Tommy Lyons 1-0-2, Michael Vala 1-0-2, Patrick Cooper 0-0-0. Totals 19-18-58.
Columbia 2 10 16 28 — 56
Gilmour Academy 11 22 10 15 — 58
Three-point goals: Columbia 7-21 (Banyasz 3, J. Simon 2, Stopper, Delahunty), Gilmour Academy 2-11 (C. Sullivan, Linane); Field goals: Columbia 17-44 (38.6 percent), Gilmour Academy 19-39 (48.7 percent); Free throws: Columbia 15-19 (78.9 percent), Gilmour Academy 18-28 (64.2 percent); Rebounds: Columbia 19 (Banyasz 6), Gilmour Academy 30 (Wright 10); Turnovers: Columbia 12, Gilmour Academy 20; Total fouls: Columbia 24, Gilmour Academy 16; Fouled out: Severo.
Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.