For the first eight minutes Saturday night at Columbus Christian, visiting Medora did not look like a basketball team searching for its first victory.
But leading by four entering the second quarter, Medora coach Andrew Evertts decided to change defensive strategy. Columbus Christian coach Kevin Roth decided to do the same. Both coaches went to zone defenses.
One strategy worked to perfection, while the other backfired.
Executing flawlessly on the offensive end and slamming the door on the other, the host Crusaders outscored the Hornets by 15 points in the second quarter and eventually sent Medora back home with a 71-64 loss.
“I was not happy with our defense in the first quarter, so we decided to mix it up in the second,” Evertts said.
Medora’s 2-3 zone proved to be no puzzle for Columbus Christian. The patient Crusaders ripped open the Hornets’ defense and took a 37-26 lead to the dressing room at intermission.
“Our defense ended up killing us,” Evertts said.
If not fatal, then Medora’s failure to handle Columbus Christian’s trapping 1-3-1 zone certainly was. The Hornets (0-8) committed eight turnovers in the deciding quarter.
“Our spider defense has gotten a lot better,” said Roth, whose team is now 14-4 for the season.
“It certainly helped us tonight. Offensively, we wanted to hit the middle and look weak side. We executed well.”
Momentum stayed on the Crusaders’ side through the third quarter and the early minutes of the fourth during which they built a 20-point lead. A flurry of turnovers in the final three minutes of the game allowed the final score to be much closer.
Austin Straub led Columbus Christian with 18 points and nine rebounds. The sophomore shooting guard scored 13 in the first half.
Sophomore Josh Miracle, a 6-foot-1 wing, scored eight points in the third quarter and finished with 17. Sophomore Chris Noblitt, a 6-5 center, netted 16 points and pulled down eight rebounds. Columbus Christian hit 55 percent from the field and outrebounded the Hornets 34-24.
Medora junior Bryce Cockerham led all scorers with 36 points. The versatile Hornet, who scored from all over the floor, also had a team-high nine rebounds.
“Cockerham is very capable,” Evertts said. “I hope he uses this game to go on and have a lot more just like it.”
Medora won the girls game 73-29. Hannah Elkins led the Hornets (6-8) with 19 points, while Ashley Lambert scored 17 and Mariah Campbell added 15.
Tori Robinson led the Crusaders (3-8) with 10 points.