Early deficit sinks Columbiana
Heritage Christian jumped out to a 14-2 advantage then hung on.
By DOUG CHAPIN
STRUTHERS -- After a slow start, the Columbiana High boys basketball team played fourth-seeded Canton Heritage Christian close, but couldn't overcome an early deficit.
As a result, the Clippers (5-16) were eliminated Wednesday from the Division IV Sectional at Struthers Fieldhouse.
Heritage rode a 14-2 start in the first five minutes of the game to defeat the Clippers, 66-51. The Conquerors (16-5) will face East Canton Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in a sectional final.
Heritage made six of its first 11 shots in the game to jump out to the 14-2 advantage.
The Clippers only attempted five field goals during the span, making one. Heritage held just a 52-49 advantage the rest of the way, but Columbiana never was able to get closer than eight points.
Kept in range
By the same token, Heritage never was able to pull away, with 17 being the Conquerors' largest lead.
"It wasn't like it was a one-possession game, but you look at the deficit out of the gate, and we stayed with them the rest of the way," Columbiana coach Herman Miller said. "In the second half, we had some key spots when we would get within eight or nine points and we couldn't get a key rebound, or we'd make a steal and then have a turnover, or we would get a makeable shot and not convert."
Senior Morgan Hart led Columbiana with 15 points and 14 rebounds to go with three blocked shots.
Classmate Deric Graft scored 12 as did Cory Guy, who added four assists.
The Clippers closed to within 17-9 at the end of the first quarter, trailed 33-21 at the half and 51-37 after three quarters. They trailed by 10, 55-45, with a little more than five minutes remaining, but then hit another dry spell of almost three minutes in which they missed their only two field-goal attempts.
Heritage, meanwhile, tallied seven points to forge a 62-45 lead.
"We had a 5-15 [regular] season," Miller said, "but we lost eight of those game by fewer than six points.
"We were competitive except for a couple of exceptions, but we made just enough mental errors to keep us from winning those close games," Miller said. "By game 21, there's no excuse for those errors."
Heritage was led by 6-foot-6 junior Chris Lovette who scored 27 points, grabbed five rebounds and blocked three shots. Point guard Ben Linville added 11 points.