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Columbus girls open Joe Horne Classic with victory

 

Columbus'  Jakirah Smith (22) looks for an opening near the basket.

Columbus' Jakirah Smith (22) looks for an opening near the basket. Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff

 

Brett Hudson

 

 

It took Columbus High School all of four minutes to show it could do almost everything. The kryptonite would be revealed in the second half, but all things considered, the Falcons girls' basketball team can work through that. 

 

In Friday's 48-35 win over Minor (Alabama) at the Joe Horne Christmas Classic, Columbus flashed the ability to score in a variety of situations and against almost everything a defense can throw at it. The one thing left to solve is halfcourt man-to-man. 

 

"I think the offense came out and executed and the defense was moving the way it was supposed to," Columbus coach Yvonne Hairston said. "We came out after halftime, they made some adjustments and we're so young, we were just turning it over a little too much there at the end. 

 

"And then we just weren't making shots. We had some open shots and when you're missing them like that, that's just like a turnover." 

 

Minor tried everything but the halfcourt man in the first half and Columbus beat it all. Against a fullcourt zone press, Columbus broke it and used the discombobulation after the fact to create favorable shots. It helped Berniya Hardin score Columbus' first seven points, first on a 3-pointer form the top of the key before a pair of layups. 

 

When Minor tried a halfcourt zone, Columbus beat that, too. The Falcons were able to use it to create another kind of bucket: second-chance points. 

 

Once Minor called a timeout to stop the 7-0 Columbus run that started the game and quickly got five points on the board, it was a second-chance bucket that stopped the bleeding. Deryona Smith grabbed an offensive rebound and whipped it out to Aniya Saddler for a 3-pointer that put Columbus in control again. 

 

Smith struck again for a crucial second-chance basket late in the second quarter that helped Columbus surge to a 16-point halftime lead. Deryona Smith and Jakivah Smith were particularly active on the offensive glass for the Falcons. 

 

The Falcons didn't always need the rebounding help. 

 

"Transition we did really well on it, we just have to do a better job of finishing," Hairston said. "We started getting a little tight there, and you're going to get that when you have inexperienced players on the floor." 

 

Hairston thought it was that inexperience that led to the troubles against the halfcourt man. 

 

Turnovers and occasionally errant passing cut what was a 17-point lead at the end of the third quarter down to 12 in the final minutes -- enough for Hairston to take a timeout to correct the situation. Late free throws from Saddler, Hannah White and Berniya Hardin were enough to keep Minor at arm's length, but the experience of the final minutes was enough for Hairston. 

 

"We have to. It's a win for us, but we have to play better," she said. "I think we have to play better later in the ball game -- those things are going to catch up with us. We have to stop turning the ball over. 

 

"That's the first time we didn't play well after halftime. We were up pretty good, so they came out a little more relaxed than they normally would. It's something we have to build on." 

 

White led the team with 17 points and still learned something from the fourth quarter. 

 

"To drive to the basket and make defensive stops," White said. 

 

White was helped by 15 points from Hardin and seven from Deryona Smith. 

 

n Saturday's late games from this tournament will appear in Monday's paper. 

 

Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson

 

 

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