As the Columbus Christian girls basketball team continues its maturing process, one thing has become certain.
The very young Crusaders know when to get the ball to Rachel Warren.
Warren, a wing, buried three jumpers in the middle of the third quarter when visiting Southside Christian was doing its best to put together a comeback. Those shots steadied Columbus Christian’s offensive ship, and it eventually notched a 47-35 victory.
“We’ve come a long way,” said Warren, who led the Crusaders with 12 points. “We have faced a lot of IHSAA teams that have been a whole new level of competition for us. The feeling of defeat isn’t easy.
“But it’s going to be good for us in the long run.”
The Crusaders raised their record to 8-13 by starting fast and never allowing the Sharks to get closer than six after they put together an 11-3 lead after eight minutes.
Still, it wasn’t easy. Sharks sophomore point guard Savannah Petty led all scorers with 17 points, and she also set up most of their other baskets by driving the lane and dishing off to open players, including Bethany Gonzalez, who scored eight points.
Columbus Christian withstood any rally attempts with a consistent and balanced offense. Senior Emily Price had a terrific game with 10 points and a nice job on the boards, and Tori Robinson, although bothered by foul trouble throughout, finished with 10 points as well.
“I thought we came out strong,” Columbus Christian coach Ron Bridgewater said. “They had a hard time attacking our 3-2 zone defense. I think I made a mistake by switching to a press.”
Columbus Christian led 23-14 at halftime and, after Petty dropped a 3-ball to cut the lead to 25-19 in the third quarter, the Crusaders started to find Warren, who made her shots count. “I’ve really focused,” Warren said. “I practice my shot just about every day.”
Her emergence is another sign that the Crusaders’ second-year program is making positive strides. “Rachel is looking for her shot now,” Bridgewater said. “She has been a reluctant shooter. Now she is catching the ball ready to shoot.”
Warren agreed with her coach. “I have been more timid,” she said. “Coach has been getting on me, that I need to do it.
“It’s not easy, but I couldn’t be with a better group of girls. I love them like they were my sisters.”
Bridgewater also praised the play of Price.
“Emily is finishing strong in her senior year,” he said. “She has played really well the last two games. She is attacking the glass and getting offensive rebounds, and she is getting to the free-throw line.”
Columbus Christian guard Hannah Carlock kept the ball in the hands of the hot shooters.
“She did a nice job of running the floor,” Bridgewater said. “She is learning that position. We did a nice job looking up the floor and getting baskets in transition.”