Eagles oust Bulldogs in rivalry regional hoops clash

Columbia’s Cole Khoury blocks a shot attempt by Waterloo’s Derek Smothers on Monday night. For images from the game, click here. (Corey Saathoff photo)

Monroe County rivals Columbia and Waterloo met on the basketball court Monday night for the third time this season, with the winner moving on and the loser going home. Despite a never-say-die effort from the host Bulldogs, it was Columbia emerging victorious again at the Class 3A Waterloo Regional, 68-49.

Columbia (18-11) shot 53 percent from the floor and 50 percent from three-point range to eliminate the Bulldogs (7-23).

“We knew Waterloo would be ready to go because of their senior-dominated lineup and not wanting to lose to their rival on their home court,” Columbia head coach Mark Sandstrom told the Republic-Times. “I thought they were pretty feisty and gave it their all. Waterloo is a capable team who can score the ball in bunches. I was worried coming into the game for that reason, along with trying to beat a team for the third time.”

The Eagles flew out to a 9-2 edge at the start, with senior Jordan Holmes scoring seven of those points. Columbia led 13-6 after one quarter.

The Bulldogs battled back to make it a 13-11 game early in the second quarter thanks to a traditional three-point play converted by Waterloo senior Ross Schrader.

Columbia gave itself a bit of breathing room heading into the locker room at halftime, leading 21-15.

The Eagles scored in bunches in the second half, including three straight three-pointers from Brennen van Breusegen, Drew Worley and Jacob O’Connor to put them up 41-27 late in the third quarter.

“That really gave us some breathing room,” Sandstrom said. “Our ability to have other people score the ball other than (Jon) Peterson and Holmes has been key for us the last 10 games or so, which explains our better record and improved play.”

The Bulldogs mounted one last fierce rally to end the third quarter, with Waterloo’s Tre Wahlig converting on a traditional three-point play to make it a 44-34 contest entering the final frame.

The Eagles pulled away late, however, to advance to Wednesday’s regional semifinal matchup with Civic Memorial (18-10).

“We just wanted to make it as tough as possible on them in the half court,” Sandstrom assessed. “I thought we did that for most of the night. It really helps when you have a big man in Cole Khoury who protects the rim and someone you don’t have to help in the low post on defense.”

Khoury, a 6-foot-8 junior center, had a monster night with 14 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. His thunderous dunk late in the game sealed the win.

Holmes led Columbia with 21 points and 14 rebounds. Waterloo was led by seniors Eli Dodd (14 points) and Schrader (13 points) in their final games.

Columbia has split two games this season against Civic Memorial, both at home. Columbia lost 54-48 in the holiday tournament on Dec. 29, and pulled out a 37-36 victory on Jan. 30.

To view or purchase images from Monday night’s game, visit the Media Store on the Republic-Times website by clicking here.

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