Whatever offensive slump that had overtaken brothers Jonathan Holmes and Jordan Holmes vanished quickly in the first quarter Tuesday night for the Columbia Eagles.
The pair combined for 15 of Columbia’s first 17 points and senior Jonathan Holmes erupted for a career-high 29 points in the Eagles’ 71-54 victory over the Waterloo Bulldogs.
“Both of us had a really good practice yesterday and brought the intensity tonight,” said Jonathan Holmes, who was averaging a team-leading 13.2 points before Tuesday. “We started the game off with a couple set plays for Jordan to get him going. Both of us just caught some fire in the first couple minutes there.
“Definitely one of my better shooting nights of the season so far.”
The younger Holmes finished with 14 points and the pair had 28 of the Eagles’ 35 points in the first half. Ryan Gudeman added nine points for the Eagles.
Columbia (13-1) beat Waterloo (5-10) for the second time this season and did so four days after suffering its first loss of the season, a 67-56 Cahokia Conference defeat against Central.
“It’s one of those veteran-team kind of things,” Jonathan Holmes said. “You know you’re going to bounce back after a tough loss like that.”
We started the game off with a couple set plays for Jordan to get him going. Both of us just caught some fire in the first couple minutes there. Definitely one of my better shooting nights of the season so far.
Columbia senior Jonathan Holmes
Columbia coach Mark Sandstrom’s squad had beaten Waterloo 66-47 at the Columbia-Freeburg Holiday Tournament, but this time got some help when the Bulldogs lost scoring leader Ben Huels to an ankle injury during the first quarter.
“That’s tough to lose him in a game like this, your leading scorer who’s averaging around 20,” Waterloo coach Dane Walter said. “To lose him early, that was a hit for us. We had some people step up on offense, that wasn’t the issue. We just had trouble on the other end of the floor.
“We weren’t communicating very well on defense and they got some easy layups. That’s one thing we have to work on and stay after it, eliminating their easy possessions.”
Sandstrom liked the way his team was able to exploit Waterloo’s defense for many easy buckets.
“Offensively we were in a really good flow and Jordan and Jon, they were really upset with what happened last Friday,” Sandstrom said of the Central loss. “They spent a lot of time in the gym and they thought they’d been struggling offensively, which they have. Tonight I think you saw the Jonny and Jordan that are going to be with us for the rest of this season.”
Sandstrom was not as pleased with Columbia’s defense. Waterloo had three players in double-figure scoring led by Dylan Hunt’s 17 points, 13 from Griffin Lenhardt and 11 from Ross Schrader.
“Waterloo shot the ball really well,” Sandstrom said. “Part of that credit goes to them and part of that credit goes to our defense. My mom’s 67 years old and she might have been able to score out there tonight.”
After falling behind 7-0 early, the Bulldogs also lost Huels to an injury late in the opening quarter.
Waterloo gained composure after the early blitz by Columbia, fighting back to take a 25-24 lead on a 3-pointer by Hunt. Columbia reestablished control quickly, outscoring the Bulldogs 11-4 by halftime on the way to a 35-29 lead.
Tonight I think you saw the Jonny and Jordan that are going to be with us for the rest of this season.
Columbia coach Mark Sandstrom
Waterloo got as close as four points early in the third quarter at 37-33, but the Eagles turned on the offensive jets once again with an 11-2 run and flew to the finish.
Waterloo 55, Columbia 37
In the girls game that preceded the boys contest, Waterloo (7-8) got 15 points from Kathryn Finnerty, 14 from Taylor Augustine and 13 from Sydney Luedeman in a victory over Columbia (11-7). Kalli Farmer led Columbia, which was missing two starters because of injury and sickness, with 13 points and Claire Long had 10.