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Eagles get style points in road win

Columbia City guard controls pace to grind out victory over Concordia

– Columbia City used Concordia’s aggressive style to its advantage in a 54-49 road win Friday in the regular-season finale.

The Cadets like to push the tempo, but the Eagles were able to offset that style, with using the dribble penetration and scoring of senior Derek Hinen, who scored 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting. Hinen also constantly got behind Concordia’s overplaying defense that usually triggers the Cadets’ transition game.

“He is does as good a job of anyone in the area of dictating a tempo,” Concordia coach Josh Eggold said of Hinen. “He really controlled the flow of the game tonight.”

In a contrast of styles, the patience of Columbia City (19-3) won out over the hectic pace of Class 3A No. 5 Concordia (17-4).

The Eagles have now won five straight and six of seven heading into next week’s sectionals.

“They want to get their fast-break points when they can,” Hinen said of the Cadets.

“They are going to be aggressive defensively, and that aggressive mentality opens up some holes for us offensively. It allows me to get holes, and it balances out with my style of play because I can handle the ball really well, and when they pressure us I can get to the basket or find shooters if they come to help.”

The game almost got away from the Eagles in the fourth quarter, as they struggled from the free-throw line, and the Cadets got hot on three-pointers to turn a rout into a close game. After trailing by 13 points, at 46-33, early in the fourth, Concordia went on a 13-4 run to get within four at 50-46 with a minute remaining.

Columbia City made 6 of 12 from the line, including a pair of misses on the front end of one-and-one situations in the fourth.

“They really gutted it out defensively,” Columbia City coach Chris Benedict said of his team.

“It was good for our kids we stay with it, and I wish we would have hit more free throws down the stretch to make it not as nerve-wracking as it was. We were just hanging on. We knew they are a good team and were going to be coming at us at some point. It is good for our guys going into next week with our guys knowing that’s how every game is going to be. It is going to be nip and tuck, and every possession is going to be a big possession. It is just a big win against a very good team.”

Austin Harris had 21 points on 7-of-9 shooting on three-pointers for Concordia, which had its six-game winning streak snapped. Thomas Starks added nine points for the Cadets.

“We understand this was a good team, and it is fun to play against a good team, but they understand the big picture,” Eggold said. “Tuesday night (first round of sectionals) is when we want to be at our best. They will bounce back.”

gjones@jg.net

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