Columbia survived and advanced in the Class 3A Mascoutah Regional on Monday night. Waterloo was not as fortunate.
Both teams entered the postseason playing great basketball, with the Eagles having won two in a row and the Bulldogs on a four-game winning streak.
The Eagles faced a familiar conference foe in Freeburg, a team they had handled easily at home just a couple of weeks ago. Freeburg had an upset on its mind, however, leading 12-7 after one quarter on Monday.
Columbia (18-10) got going in the second quarter, and then turned on the jets in the third quarter to pull away with a 65-42 win. The Eagles outscored Freeburg 28-7 in the third quarter and shot 56 percent from the floor for the game.
Jonathan Holmes led the way with 17 points for the Eagles; Korbin Farmer added 12 points with 10 rebounds.
The win sets up a Wednesday night showdown with Cahokia for the chance to play in Friday’s regional title game.
“In my opinion, our kids had a few postseason jitters in the first half,” Columbia head coach Mark Sandstrom said. “We really weren’t ourselves. I think halftime really allowed the kids to relax, refocus and just come out and play in the second half.”
Four players scored in double figures in the win. Ryan Gudeman nearly had a triple-double (nine points, eight assists, six steals).
“Our guys really feed off of Ryan’s transition game in the open court,” Sandstrom said.
On Friday, the Eagles finished the regular season with a 55-40 win at Triad.
Farmer led the way with 18 points and nine rebounds, as Columbia pulled away late after trailing by three points after the first quarter.
The Eagles led 28-22 at halftime and never let up in the second half.
Gudeman added 15 points for the Eagles.
Waterloo also faced a familiar conference foe in Mascoutah on Monday, but the outcome was not the same.
The Bulldogs (13-16) failed to score in the first quarter, as the regional host team Indians built up a 9-0 lead entering the second quarter and led 24-11 at halftime.
Waterloo crept back into the game in the fourth quarter, feeding off the strong play of its seniors. But in the end, it was not enough as Mascoutah won, 42-37.
Playing in his final game, senior Rick Wiegand scored 17 points for the ‘Dogs. As a team, Waterloo shot just 31 percent from the floor.
“They knocked us down and we didn’t get up until the fourth quarter,” Waterloo head coach CJ Cruser said.
A Waterloo turnover at the end of the second quarter turned into a back-breaking three-pointer by Mascoutah, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
“That three was huge, considering late in the game when we came back we never could get the lead and that basket was three points we could not overcome,” Cruser said.
The head coach praised his seniors for “playing their hearts out” to get the Bulldogs back in the game.
“I am very proud of the effort in coming back and not laying down, but extremely disappointed we could not secure the win,” he said. “Our problems all year came up in this game.”
He said the seniors will be missed.
“This group of seniors played harder than any other team I have ever coached,” Cruser said. “We did not get the results we wanted, but they played so hard every time out that it is a sign of the kind of character these boys have. No matter what they had to play for, they always played their guts out and I will never forget that about them.”
Waterloo closed out its regular season in fine fashion at home Friday on senior night, dismantling Civic Memorial by the score of 55-37.
Waterloo seemed to feed off the positive energy of the home crowd before the opening tip, storming out to a 27-6 lead at the end of one quarter.
Wiegand put on a show in his final home game, hitting shot after shot on his way to a 26-point night. Fellow senior Max Schrader scored 12 points for the ‘Dogs,, who led 34-13 at halftime.
Senior Sam Dodd had another strong night on the boards in the victory.
Were it not for three one-possession losses, the defending Mississippi Valley Conference champions could have finished 8-2 and in the title race again this season.
In his four seasons with the ‘Dogs, Cruser has amassed an overall record of 62-51 to go along with last season’s MVC title.