Tornadoes upend Port Clinton

PHOTO BY STEVE WILLIAMS Columbian's Cole Zimmerman goes in for a left handed layup against Port Clinton Saturday in Tiffin.

Time between wins for Columbian this year has been much longer than desired.

That they had to wait a little longer than planned for their latest victory, well, they only had one of their own to blame.

Jaden Myers hit two foul shots with no time left in regulation to force overtime in the junior varsity game and followed up with a buzzer-beating putback to send the issue to another extra session.

The younger Tornadoes, relatively speaking, came up short, but in the varsity game, Columbian had the upper hand from mid-first quarter on while turning back Port Clinton 63-54 Saturday night.

“The difference has been hard work and hustle,” junior Cole Zimmerman said after the improving Tornadoes moved to 3-15 while dropping the Redskins to 1-17. “We’re really starting to come together. We just had to keep our heads up and keep working hard.”

Zimmerman tossed in 11 points and had nine rebounds, one of four Tornadoes to score nine or more in a balanced effort that kept on giving.

Tyrin Smith took an inside pass from Chase Frankhauser and posted up for a score to put Columbian on top for good at 8-6 with 2:46 left in the first period. Bryce Burns followed with one of his four 3-point goals, LJ Reaves added another from long range and Smith hit two foul shots for a 16-8 edge at the break,

That was the start to a 17-2 run that extended two minutes into second period as 3-pointers by Burns and Mason Scott pushed the margin to 23-8.

“We haven’t shot the ball well all year,” Port Clinton coach Von Graffin said. “Tonight, we missed the same shots in the first half that they made in the first half. They’d get a 20-footer wide open and they drained it. Then we’d get a 20-footer wide open and we don’t hit it.”

Columbian made 24 of 52 for the game, spurred by a combined 12 of 21 in the second and fourth quarters.

Zimmerman scored five in a 46-second span early in the third period. And with Burns getting another 3-pointer and Reaves scoring off a Frankhauser feed, Columbian had its biggest lead at 43-26 with 4:22 left in the quarter.

“In the second quarter, we moved the ball really, really well and we shot it well because of that,” TC coach Travis Kinn said. “And then at the start of the third quarter, I don’t know how many steals and deflections Cole had, but he did a really good job of that in helping us build our lead.”

From there, the Redskins put together a 12-4 run to trim the margin to 47-38 for the stretch. Sammy Diaz, who led PC with 18 points, hit one of his four 3-pointers in the run and Max Brenner (16 points, five rebounds) added a couple inside baskets.

Dylan Simpson’s jumper to start the fourth brought the Redskins to within 47-40 but Reaves, who led Columbian with 22 points and matched Frankhauser’s team-high five assists, had a three-point play to counter. The Tornadoes maintained an eight-to-10-point lead the rest of the way.

“That’s the way it’s been for us,” Graffin said. “We’ll spot them a lead, then make a run and then run out of gas or get in foul trouble. Their size and athleticism hurt us and we didn’t rotate well trying to get to the basketball late in the game.”

Reaves scored eight in the fourth quarter, including back-to-back hoops to push the margin to 62-49 with 1:51 left.

“We’re just working hard in practice, every drill working to get better and it’s paying off,” Reaves said. “We’re communicating better on defense, getting some stops and that translates to the offense.”

“I think we’ve been getting better all, along step-by-step,” said Davaunte Brockington, who finished with nine points and led Columbian with 10 rebounds. “I think we have had better ball movement (in recent games) and that’s opening things up.”

Kinn said his club has shown marked improvement the past few weeks.

“At times, we’re definitely playing with more confidence,” he said. “Sometimes, it’s still a battle for consistency. When we play with a sense of urgency, these guys are a tough group, a tough out. I’m really proud of how they handled themselves out there tonight.”