Just a few short weeks ago, the Columbia High School boys basketball team was talking about chasing the conference title and looking forward to facing larger teams in its regional after being bumped up from Class 2A to 3A. Those dreams began to fade, however, just days before the season began when its star player, Hayden Landgraf tore his ACL and learned he would be out for his senior season.
This past week, in the Lebanon Tournament, Columbia’s road-blocks became a reality with the team coming out 1-3 to start off its season.
“We’re still in a learning phase,” Eagle basketball coach Mark Sandstrom said. “We are still trying to learn how to play without Hayden.
“Consistency could be an issue for awhile.”
That’s because the Eagles have also had to play without two other starters. Jacob Wessel has been out with back issues and is expect to be back next week at the latest, while Cole Foster was out due to an ankle injury but returned for Saturday’s game against Wesclin in the tournament.
Columbia went on to lose to Wesclin, 55-37, after a tumultuous second quarter where they were outscored 23-6.
“Things just kind of snowballed on us,” Sandstrom said.
But now the Eagles have to turn around and face the Warriors again, in their next game Friday at home.
“We talked (Monday) in practice and said, ‘Ok, we are going to see if we can improve,’” Sandstrom said, adding that they will need other guys to step up.
Coach also said starters Adam Babb and Michael Hunsaker have really kept this team together so far.
Hunsaker leads the team with 63 points overall this season, with a 64 free throw percentage and 16 rebounds; while Babb has 29 points on the season, shooting 66 percent from the free throw line and has five steals.
“Right now we look like we are in the second week of practice, instead of a month into the season.” Sandstrom said. “It’s really disappointing.”