Columbia sophomore Jon Peterson set the trend with the first basket of the game.
His 3-pointer was the first of nine the Eagles sank in 17 attempts during their 56-43 Cahokia Conference win at Freeburg on Friday night.
“First of all, our ball movement improved, and we got some open shots,” said 12th-year Columbia coach Mark Sandstrom. “Petersen hit that big 3 to start the game, and kids were all saying ‘hey, we got off to this great start,’ then all of the sudden, it’s like it was contagious.”
The Eagles (5-4, 3-2) shot a higher percentage from beyond the arc (52.9) than they did from the perimeter or the paint (38.4).
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Five Columbia players got in on the 3-point fun, including junior Brennen van Breusegen, who scored a career-best 16 points.
“Brennen van Bruesegen had the best game I’ve ever seen him play,” said junior Jordan Holmes, who finished with a 14-point, 10-rebound double-double. “Having 16 points like that, he just started a spark for us, and everybody was feeling it.”
At 21.8 points per game, Holmes is among area scoring leaders, but was not a factor early for Columbia.
Senior Greg Long also had a double-double, with 11 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Jared Germain also had a 3-point basket among his eight points. Peterson finished with seven points.
The depth of those contributions — especially early in the game — were key to the victory, Sandstrom said.
“One of the things I’m really pleased with is that, at the end of the the first quarter, Jordan Holmes had zero points, and we had 18,” he said. “Jordan is our point guard, so if Jordan isn’t scoring or Jordan doesn’t have it going, then we kind of struggle a little bit.
“Tonight we got a big lift from some other guys who, maybe you don’t see it in the stats, but are very capable.”
Friday’s game was rescheduled from last week’s ice storm.
Both the Eagles and the Midgets (5-3, 2-2) will play in the Columbia-Freeburg Holiday Tournament beginning Monday.
Columbia held a two-point lead at the end of the first quarter but opened it up 35-23 just before the half on a pair of transition baskets by Holmes and a 3-pointer by van Breusegen.
Parker Weiss, who led Freeburg with 16 points, drained his own 3 to get the Midgets back within seven points early in the second half, but treys from Holmes, Germain and van Breusegen quickly put the Eagles back in command, 49-34, at the end of three quarters.
Freeburg threw Columbia off its rhythm late with a change of defense, but it wasn’t soon enough.
“We haven’t played for two weeks, and we looked like a team that hasn’t played for two weeks,” said Freeburg coach Matt Laur. “We had 11 total rebounds in that game. You’re not going to win a whole lot of games with 11 total rebounds.”
Parker Weiss had 10 first-half points and finished with a 16 to lead Freeburg. Alex Mack added nine more.
Freeburg shot 16-for-39 from the field, including 3-for-11 from 3-point range.