Eagles win another Candy Cane Classic title

Gibault athletic director Jim Montgomery hands the Candy Cane Classic championship trophy to Columbia players following the Eagles’ 55-32 win over Wood River on Saturday. (John Spytek photo)

The Columbia High School girls basketball team won its third straight Candy Cane Classic title at Gibault Catholic High School on Saturday, defeating Wood River, 55-32. 

Sophia Bonaldi, who was named tourney MVP, scored 23 points to lead the Eagles, who shot 61.5 percent from the floor. Bonaldi, who is averaging 15 points and 3.5 steals per game this season, scored 56 points and recorded 13 steals in the tournament. 

Columbia is now 10-2 on the season and 4-1 in the Cahokia Conference.

“This team is starting to figure out how important it is to value the basketball and what good possessions can do to a defense,” Columbia head coach Scott Germain said. “I am happy on where we are at, but there is a bigger ceiling for this team.”

The Eagles defeated Red Bud last Wednesday, 62-43, to advance to Saturday’s title game. Bonaldi scored 20 points in the win. 

Columbia opened the tourney with an easy 56-17 victory over Madison. 

In other action from the tourney’s final day, Waterloo (3-10) lost 30-28 to Red Bud in the third place game. Aubrey Hubbard led the Bulldogs with 13 points. 

Waterloo shot just 20 percent from the floor in the narrow defeat.

Gibault (7-9) won 42-33 over Roxana as Ashlyn Wightman led the Hawks with 19 points, 16 rebounds and seven blocks. The Hawks finished the tourney with two straight victories following an opening round loss. 

Valmeyer (2-8) snapped a five-game losing skid with a 51-27 win over Madison. Tinleigh Jakimauskas scored 33 points and grabbed 18 rebounds to lead the Pirates.

On Thursday, Wood River downed Waterloo, 48-36, to advance to the title game. The Bulldogs actually led Wood River, 11-10, after the first quarter, but the Oilers took command with a 10-3 second quarter run. 

Ali Scace and Hubbard scored nine points each to lead Waterloo. 

Gibault posted a 37-29 win over Madison last Wednesday night. Wightman scored 17 points and Maddie Davis scored 13 points, grabbed eight rebounds and recorded seven assists for the Hawks. 

Last Tuesday, Waterloo opened tourney play with a 41-27 win over Roxana. Hubbard led the Bulldogs with 14 points. 

Valmeyer opened the tourney with a 53-14 loss to Wood River last Tuesday.

Local players named to the Candy Cane Classic all-tournament team included Columbia’s Lexi Touchette, Wightman from Gibault and Hubbard from Waterloo. 

Columbia hosts Mehlville on Thursday night before playing in the Lebanon tournament over the Christmas break. In addition to Bonaldi, other team leaders include Touchette (nine points, eight rebounds per game) and Aryn Henke (nine points per game).

“Fae Harrell is the coach on the court and calls out our offensive sets,” Germain added.

On Monday night, Waterloo lost a 37-35 nailbiter at home to Chester. Scace and Sarah Laskowski each scored 10 points for the Bulldogs, who play at Mater Dei on Saturday. 

 Also on Monday, Valmeyer lost 53-22 at Dupo despite 16 points from Jakimauskas. She is averaging 16.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per game to lead the Pirates. 

Mackenzie Scheppelman led the Tigers with 17 points. 

Dupo (2-10) snapped a nine-game losing streak with the victory. 

Octavia Heidelberg is leading Dupo this season at nearly nine points per game and 14 rebounds per game. 

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