COLUMBIA — Columbia sophomore guard Foster Gundlach and his teammates have decided to re-define their goals for this season.
The Eagles, with only one senior starter, were thought to be in a transition year.
"Everybody thinks we're rebuilding," Gundlach said. "But we're getting better each game and now we're looking for more than that."
Gundlach and fellow sophomore Cameron Roth triggered a third-quarter outburst with a trio of 3-pointers that propelled the Eagles to a 55-42 win over Hillsboro on Thursday in the opening round of the Columbia-Freeburg Holiday Tournament at Columbia High.
Third-seeded Columbia (4-3) advances to face second-seeded Waterloo (3-4) in a semifinal contest Friday at 7 p.m. Top-seeded Alton Marquette (8-2) will play fourth-seeded Freeburg (4-5) in the other semifinal at 8:30 p.m. The winners meet for the title Saturday at 8.
Columbia exploded on a 10-2 run late in the third quarter to shake off sixth-seeded Hillsboro (4-4). Roth, who finished with a game-high 15 points, and Gundlach, who added 13 points, kicked-started the blitz with some long-range marksmanship.
"They really picked us up and got us going," Columbia coach Mark Sandstrom said. "We talked about somebody to step up in the locker room (at half) and Foster and Cameron really did that for us."
Hillsboro battled back from an early eight-point deficit to take its only lead of the game 23-22 on a short jumper by Joe Moore midway through the third period.
The Columbia mighty-mites took over from there.
Roth, 5-8,hit a pair of foul shots to regain the lead and then drilled a 3-pointer to push theadvantage to four, Gundlach, 5-10,followed with a trey 31 seconds later and then added another 3-pointer that put his club back in control 33-25.
The Hiltoppers never got closer than to within six points of the rest of the way.
"Those 3-pointers just killed us," Hillsboro coach Joe Vanzo said. "We fought to get back in it, thenthey started hitting from the outside and there wasn't much we could do after that."
Hillsboro played most of the game without 6-foot-8-inch junior Dylan Miller, who logged only 11 minutes before fouling out with 6:04 left. Senior Noah Calvert led the losers with 11 points.
The Eagles sloshed their way to a 33-27 halftime lead thanks to a solid defense that forced10 turnovers in the first nine minutes. Offensively, sophomores Korbin Farmer and Drew Huebener added key early baskets. Junior Zachary Mathews chipped with a big two-pointer with just over two minutes left in the second period. Farmer and Huebner combined for 19 rebounds and led their team to a 35-29 advantage on the boards.
"We were ragged at times," Sandstrom said. "But that's going to happen when you have so many sophomores out there."
Columbia went on a 9-1 tear after Miller fouled out to pump the lead to 47-31.
"We're young and inexperienced, but we give it our all," Sandstrom said. "One thing these kids know how to do isplay hard."
In other tournament games.
Waterloo 53, Metro East Lutheran33
The Bulldogs used a 12-3 spurt over the final 4:31 of the first half to take control of this quarterfinal contest.
Senior Shane Lenhardt led the Bulldogs with 11 points. Junior Rick Wiegand added nine points.
Lenhardt began the tell-tale run with a pair of short jumpers from close range. Zach Schaab scored twice before Daniel Gardner converted on a driving layup.
Waterloo scored eight successive points in third quarter to go in front 39-23. Ryan Aycock keyed the spurt with a 3-pointer.
"We finally got some offense created by our defense," Waterloo coach C.J. Cruser said. "I thought we did a nice job on defense."
Freeburg 46, Civic Memorial 40
Senior Justin Diecker scored 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead the Midgets to victory in a quarterfinal contest.
Freeburg trailed by one at the half, but used a 14-11 blitz in the third quarter to gain the lead.
Metro East Lutheran 55, Lebanon 49
Jason Johnson scored 15 points to lead the Knights to a first-round win,
Lutheran jumped to a14-point lead in the first half.
Lebanon senior Taylor Schmitt led all scorers with 25 points,
Lovejoy 74, Dupo 35
Senior Devon Jonespaced the winners with 20 points.
Lovejoyraced to a 43-18 lead inthe first half and never looked back.
DeAndre Brown led Dupo with 11 points.
ALTON MARQUETTE 75, LOVEJOY 38
Senior Deion Lavender scored 31 points to lead the Explorers to an easy win in this quarterfinal-round contest.
Marquette scored 26 points in theopening quarter and led 46-17 at the break.
Jordan Harris added 19 points for Marquette, the two-time defending tournament champion.