Southern Sports & Travel, By Darron Thomas
The 3rd ranked Columbia Cougars rolled into Mendenhall last night and left with a 68-31 pounding of 5th ranked Simpson. Columbia jumped out to an early 12-3 lead halfway through the opening quarter and never looked back as senior Tanner Pace led the Cougars with a game high 19 points.
(Above) Josh Hankins of Simpson gets a shot off over Columbia's Christian Robbins (#0)
Taylor Fortenberry put Columbia up with two quick baskets less than one minute into the game but Simpson’s Cory Herrington answered with a 3-pointer from the wing in what would prove to be a fast paced first quarter. Herrington’s basket would be as close as Simpson would get on the night as Columbia’s defensive pressure and hot shooting from the perimeter stifled the home-standing Cougars throughout.
(Above) Columbia's Taylor Fortenberry drives for 2 of his 8 points on the night
Four of five Columbia starters hit buckets in what would be a 20-11 first quarter. Christian Robbins’ offensive rebound and put back at the 2:33 mark of the second quarter gave Columbia their biggest lead of the half at 29-15.
Columbia erupted in the third quarter as seniors Tanner Pace (right) and Christian Robbins combined for 16 points and the Cougars outscored Simpson 21-6 to take a commanding 53-25 advantage into the final quarter.
Columbia bested Simpson 15-6 in the fourth quarter to take a 68-31 win and improve to 18-4 on the season.
Pace led all scorers with 19 points, Robbins added 12, Cole Oglesbee had 11, Taylor Fortenberry 8, Brooks Robinson 7, Brandon Bell 4, Alex Price 3 and Jas Stringer 2 and Josh Broom 2 each.
Michael Layton led Simpson (17-4) with 8 points, Garrett Taylor added 7, Devin Millis and Josh Hankins 4 each, Cory Herrington 3, Tyler King and Austin Herrington 2 apiece and Walt Prince 1.
In girl’s action……
Columbia withstood a Simpson 9-3 run late in the fourth quarter to hold on to a 45-40 win on the road. Senior Ashton Scarborough led the Lady Cougars with a game high 22 points as Columbia upped their season mark to 14-5.
Columbia jumped out to an early 5-0 lead on a Hannah Martin 3-pointer from the top of the key and a Clare Herring jumper from the elbow. Simpson closed the opening quarter strong as baskets from Lauren Griffin and Natalie Sullivan enabled SCA to keep close in what would be a 10-6 Columbia lead heading into the second quarter.
(Above) Simpson's Abby Dunston (#14) is slowed by Columbia's Clare Herring (#12) and Hannah Martin (#21)
Columbia stretched out to a 15-8 lead on a Sissy Price jumper at the 6:02 mark of the second quarter but an 8-0 Simpson run gave SCA their first lead of the night at 16-15 with just under three minutes left in the half. Buckets from Abby Dunston, Brittany Gardner, Lauren Griffin and a baseline drive by Dunston completed the run.
Simpson’s lead was short-lived as Ashton Scarborough of Columbia closed the half with six points to give the Lady Cougars a slim 21-18 halftime advantage.
(Above) Simpson's Brittany Gardner (#34) shoots over Sissy Price (#15) of Columbia
Columbia managed to increase their led to 33-27 heading into the final quarter and threatened to break things open after Scarborough canned two free throws at the 4:44 mark of the fourth quarter to give Columbia breathing room at 39-31.
Simpson responded with baskets from four different players and methodically cut into the Columbia lead. Lauren Griffin’s jumper from the elbow at the 4:27 mark trimmed the deficit to 39-33 and a Brittany Gardner lay-in in the paint on the following possession pulled Simpson to within four points at 39-35.
Following two Meredith Bass free throws to push the Columbia lead back to six at 41-35 Simpson senior Lauren Welch drilled a 3-pointer from the wing to cut the deficit in half at 41-38 with 1:41.
Columbia’s Clare Herring then hit on one of two free throws but Simpson pulled to within a basket as Natalie Sullivan’s drive at the 37 second mark made it a 42-40 game.
Simpson would get no closer and Columbia converted on 3 of 4 free throws to secure a hard fought 45-40 road win.
Columbia’s Ashton Scarborough (right) led all scorers with 22 points, Hannah Martin added 9, Meredith Bass had 6, Sissy Price and Clare Herring had 3 each and Kelsey Cooper 2.
Abby Dunston led Simpson (10-7) with 12 points, Natalie Sullivan chipped in with 9, Brittany Gardner 7 and Lauren Griffin and Lauren Welch had 6 each.