In a thrilling contest that was tied with less than two minutes to play, Columbia fell to Marquette in the Freeburg-Columbia Holiday Tournament championship game Saturday night at Freeburg High School, 45-41.
The Explorers avenged an overtime loss to the Eagles in last year’s regional final at Waterloo — their only defeat — and improved to 15-1 this season in winning a third straight holiday tourney title.
Columbia dropped to 10-5 with the loss and finished 4-1 in tourney play.
The Eagles trailed 22-16 at halftime, with both teams being careful on their possessions and a couple of turnovers coming back to haunt Columbia.
Columbia went on a 17-7 run in the third quarter, however, to take a 33-29 lead into the final period. A more frenetic pace of play worked in the Eagles’ favor.
Marquette regrouped in the fourth quarter, tying the game at 33-33 with 5:35 remaining.
Sam Horner answered for the Eagles with a three-pointer, which was followed by a Cole Khoury free throw to put Columbia up 37-33. Following a Marquette bucket, Jon Peterson made it 39-35 at 2:43.
Marquette tightened up on defense and created scoring opportunities to tie it again at 39-39 with just under two minutes to play.
On the ensuing possession, a steal by Marquette’s Cortez Harris on Columbia’s end of the court resulted in another quick score and a 41-39 Explorers lead.
Columbia was unable to answer from there. Peterson led the Eagles with 11 points; Horner was next with 10 points.
Peterson and Khoury from Columbia, Karson Huels from Gibault and Kelvin Swims from Dupo were all named to the all-tourney team.
On Friday, Columbia took down Triad, 58-51, to advance to the title game. The Eagles led 17-3 after one quarter. Jacob O’Conner scored 18, Khoury scored 17 and Horner added 16 points.
Columbia defeated Lovejoy on Thursday and both Dupo and Civic Memorial on Wednesday in earlier tourney action.
In other action from Saturday, Waterloo dropped to 3-12 on the season with a 76-59 loss to Lovejoy in the tourney’s seventh place game. Ty Lenhardt led Waterloo with 18 points. The Bulldogs went 1-4 at the tourney.
Gibault lost 38-33 to Civic Memorial in the fifth place game Saturday. The Hawks were outscored 19-6 in the fourth quarter. Gibault, which was led by Huels with 16 points, went 2-3 at the tourney.
On Friday, Gibault won its second game of the season against cross-town rival Waterloo, 64-50. The Hawks led 22-11 after one quarter. Huels led the Hawks with 17 points. Tre Wahlig scored 29 points to lead the Bulldogs.
Valmeyer defeated Dupo, 71-60, in the ninth place game on Saturday. The Pirates led 38-13 at halftime en route to their only win in five tries at the tourney. Philip Reinhardt poured in 29 points for Valmeyer. Swims led the Tigers with 25 points and eight assists. Dupo went 0-5 at the tourney.
For photos from this week’s tourney, click here.