It wouldn’t feel like the holidays for the area girls basketball scene without the Gibault Candy Cane Classic.
The annual tournament tipped off Monday night with Columbia (6-3, 3-2 in the Cahokia Conference) taking on the Windsor Owls. The Eagles faced their undefeated opponent coming off a three-game losing streak.
“In the game of basketball you play three or four games in a week and you are going to have your ups and downs,” Columbia girls coach Scott Germain said.
But Columbia was on its way back up, defeating the Owls 45-24, holding the team to five points and under for the last three quarters of the game.
“Defensively when you hold a team to under 25 points, I think you are doing something well,” Germain said. “Obviously we hit some shots tonight, where the past couple of nights we have been struggling from the field.”
The Eagles’ top scorers in Savannah Wittenbrink (17 points), Erika Varel (9) and Olivia Brower (7) combined to outscore Windsor’s entire team.
“We knocked some shots down,” Germain said. “Megan Biscan hit a couple three pointers for us and Savannah hit hers in the middle of the paint. We took care of the basketball.”
Local rivals, Gibault (5-6) and Waterloo (2-5, 1-3 in the Mississippi Valley Conference), faced-off following the Columbia/Windsor game.
The last time these two teams met, it was a back-and-forth game with Gibault coming out on top by just one point.
“It started off kind of the same way we played them last game,” Waterloo girls coach Matt Lucash said. “They got accomplished what they wanted to get accomplished. We hurried up and took some uncharacteristic shots for ourselves.”Columbia’s Taryn Pena dribbles the ball down the floor in Monday’s Candy Cane Classic first round win against Windsor. The Eagles handed the Owls their first loss of the season. (Teryn Schaefer photo)
Although, it was a close game most of the way through, Waterloo pulled away to win it, 50-39.
“We just never could get any pep in our step,” Gibault girls coach Jill Puckett said. “This was a slower game for us. That is what we talked about at half time, intensity. There was zero intensity with us tonight.”
Erica Nevois was the difference in the game for the Bulldogs. Nevois scored a season-high 23 points.
“(Nevois) is a hit and miss. A couple of our last games she had a rough night and she kind of gets down on herself when she does,” Lucash said. “We played at Highland last Thursday, they are one of the best teams we see in the area, and she actually had a really good night against them. We played really competitive against a Highland team, that in my opinion, got us back on track and got us playing good basketball.”
Waterloo’s Hope Elliot had 12 points on the night, while Jodi Kaiping had eight.
Gibault’s Kelly Kapp led the Hawks with 14 points against Waterloo. Teammates Lauren Prader and Courtney Schutt had nine and eight points, respectively.
“We need a little more defensive quickness,” Puckett said. “I think we are a quicker team than how we played.”
Gibault will face Windsor in the consolation bracket on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. Columbia and Waterloo will precede that game, playing in the semi-finals of the Candy Cane Classic at 6 p.m.
“We are excited to play Columbia. Especially when you get to play Gibault and Columbia back-to-back, it makes for a fun week,” Lucash said.
Waterloo and Columbia have not yet met this season. Columbia coach Scott Germain said either team would be tough to face before the conclusion of Monday’s Gibault/Waterloo game.
“Whichever team wins this game, we will have our hands full.”
As is the case for Waterloo as well.
“They are going to be very tough. A little bit of a different dynamic than what Gibault brings,” Lucash said. “Columbia is going to have two great post players in Wittenbrink and Varel. They are probably going to come up and press us and get in our face and probably play man-to-man defense against us. Unless they want to stand and make us shoot.”
Click here, to view the tournament bracket.