CARBONDALE — Columbia coach Scott Germain didn't ask much of the Eagles prior to their Class 3A sectional semifinal game Tuesday at Carbondale High School.
All Germain wanted was four good quarters of basketball. Instead Germain got three. And it cost the Eagles, who finished 16-11.
Carbondale sophomore guard Achsah Greer hit three 3-point shots to spark a flawless first quarter as the Terriers jumped out to a 27-2 lead and then coasted to a 58-46 win at the Carbondale Sectional.
Playing before a large home crowd, the Terriers came out of the blocks energized.
With Kandace Jones and Kalli Bacon dominating in the post and on the boards, the 5-foot-6 Greer bombed away from the perimeter, connecting on all three of her 3-point attempts and giving the Terriers a huge early advantage.
"We talk all the time about getting out fast and being ready to play. Tonight we were,'' Terriers coach Marialice Jenkins said. "Of course playing at home is a huge advantage, especially in the postseason. The crowd is louder and the adrenaline gets pumping a little faster then normal. We can't play much better then we did in the first quarter."
Columbia didn't quit.
"I was proud of the way we fought back. The girls kept battling and didn't quit,'' Germain said. "We just dug ourselves too deep of a hole early in the game."
The Eagles, behind the play of Kaylee Bastien and Kalli Farmer, cut the Terriers' lead to 10 points twice in the closing three minutes. But Columbia simply ran out of time.
The win moves Carbondale (21-8) into the sectional title game on Thursday when the Terriers will take on Civic Memorial at 7 p.m. The Eagles (28-2) defeated Effingham 50-30 in the other semifinal on Tuesday.
While Carbondale could do no wrong in the opening period, the first eight minutes were a pure nightmare for the Eagles.
Dominated on the backboards and with Greer, Jones and Bacon for 21 of the 27 points, Carbondale also forced nine first-quarter turnovers in taking complete control of the game.
"We saw the same kind of pressure against Althoff in the regional final, but tonight we just didn't execute against it as well,'' Germain said. "I don't think it (the slow start) had as much to do with us being that nervous. I think it was more of them playing very well. Greer coming out and hitting three 3's really hurt us.
"I've said all year that if we come out and play four good quarters of basketball, then we're a pretty good team. We didn't do that tonight."
Columbia, which finished the first half with 10 points and 16 turnovers, actually cut the Terrier lead to 23 points at halftime.
"The one thing about having a lot of adrenaline is that when it slows down, the kids do too," Jenkins said. "We came back down to earth in the final three quarters and Columbia, to its credit, didn't quit. They made it a little closer then I would have liked it in the last couple of minutes.
The Eagles battled hard in the final two quarters in their quest to keep playing. After playing Carbondale even in the third period, Columbia had a 25-14 advantage in the fourth quarter and forced 10 of the Terriers 21 turnovers.
Bastien (13 points) and Farmer (11) combined for 15 points and when Farmer hit two free throws with just over two minutes left, the Eagles were within striking distance at 52-42.
But Terriers junior guard Skylar Miller made four throws to ice the game.
Jones led Carbondale with 17 points, while Greer chipped in with 13 and Bacon added 12.
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at 239-2661 or email@example.com