Crimson Tide Rides The Wave As Columbia Picks Up Emotional Win, Silences Antietam In Nonconference Clash

Written by: on Thursday, January 9th, 2020

 

No matter what the sport and no matter what the level of play, there are certain undeniable homefield advantages. That said, there are those, and then there are TRUE, undeniable homefield advantages. Sure enough, the Lancaster-Lebanon League is certainly no exception to the rule.

While it may be small, Columbia’s “House on the Hill” packs plenty of punch. If the ghosts found circling high above the gym floor from championship teams gone by isn’t enough, consider the fact that the consistent and ever-present Crimson Tide faithful who turn out consistently in droves to help make the sound inside Columbia’s intimate house of haunts rise to levels of deafening white-noise as the noise bounds back and forth between the cinderblock walls. And with nary an inch left separating the participants from the spectators, it all adds up to what be considered the most intimidating home court in all the league. And while the Lancaster-Lebanon League audience is certainly familiar and well-aware with the daunting task that comes with traveling up that infamous hill, not everyone found on Columbia’s schedule was likely all that fluent in the assignment. Case in point, the Crimson Tide’s Wednesday night opponent.

For the Antietam Mounts, last season was certainly one to remember. In fact, their season last year was so successful that the Mountaineers were rewarded with the rightful opportunity of playing inside another famed building, Hershey’s Giant Center, where Antietam faced off against another Pennsylvania high school basketball blueblood, Steel High, for the District 3-2A championship just one season ago. And while the Rollers would go on to add another piece of hardware to their already expansive collection in 92-57 final triumph over the Mounts in that aforementioned contest, Antietam was still rightly rewarded with a trip to the PIAA state tournament before bowing out in the opening round to Northeast Bradford, 61-55.

And while the season hasn’t exactly gone the way in which last season had given Antietam’s 3-5 overall record coming into their midweek tussle against Columbia, a win over the Crimson Tide — a team already firmly out on the warpath towards possibly capturing the L-L Section Five title at the end of the regular season — likely would provide all the energy in the world for an Antietam bunch searching for any sort of tangible jolt heading into the meat and potatoes of their season.

Yet even though Antietam fought valiantly throughout, high tide would eventually claim another victim by the end of the evening.

Right out of the chute, both Antietam and Columbia came out firing on Wednesday night. In fact, on the Mounts’ opening possession of the ballgame, Antietam would proceed to take the very lead as a 3-ball splashed in senior guard, Prestin Stief, put the visitors hailing from the foot of Mount Penn up 3-0 just a few seconds into the contest.

However, in true Columbia fashion, the Crimson Tide proceeded to drink up all the juice and unbridled energy that only their homecourt can provide as they proceeded to rally right back and take the 8-6 advantage following a pair of back-to-back trifectas rang up 6’2 senior guard, Matt McCleary, just three minutes into the game.

That said, it quickly became apparent that a back and forth battle was what would continue to take place throughout the duration of the evening.

Case in point, the Mounts charging right back to knot things up at 12-12 shortly thereafter following a spectacular, acrobatic layup courtesy of multifaceted sophomore guard, Hector Tiburcio, which was immediately followed suit by a kiss off the glass from junior guard, Aidan Freese, as 3:30 remained on the first quarter clock.

Yet just when Antietam may have thought that they had survived the Crimson Tide’s first salvo, Columbia then rose up and proceeded to author the game’s next six points as a strong and determined take to the rack thanks to 6’0 sophomore guard, Kerry “Hov” Glover, put the homestanding Tide up by half a dozen at 18-12 with as a wildly entertaining first quarter was ticking down to its conclusion.

That said, Antietam came roaring right back in the face of Columbia’s latest push as Antietam senior point guard, Jaden Green, proceeded to go on his own personal 5-0 run to close things out, bringing the Mounts back within a point at 18-17 as the first quarter buzzer sounded.

Granted, seeing as how the Mounts were able to right the ship to close things off in the opening quarter on Wednesday night, it would be more than understandable – perhaps even likely — to see Columbia come out of the gates firing once the second quarter got underway. Rest assured, they most certainly did exactly that.

On the Tide’s second offensive trip of the second stanza, the Columbia lead had quickly swelled back up to six as a Michael Poole Jr triple, good for 3 of his 16-point outing on the night, put Columbia out in front, 23-17. From there, the Columbia cushion eventually reached the double-digit plateau as a wonderful dish courtesy of Columbia table-setter, Hov Glover, to a streaking Luis Cruz on the break put the Crimson Tide up 29-19, prompting an Antietam timeout with 5:17 left to go before the break in order to stem the Tide’s tide.

But even despite the impromptu Antietam timeout, Columbia would then push their lead up to a baker’s dozen immediately following the stoppage as yet another Michael Poole Jr 3-ball gave Columbia the 32-19 lead before a pair of two consecutive takes to the rack by way of Jaden Green, good for 4 of his team-high 18 points on the evening, trimmed the Crimson Tide lead back into single digits at 32-23 as the second quarter continued to take shape.

So, with the wild swings in emotion and momentum clearly on display for all to witness, the game had then reached a critical juncture in terms of either Antietam or Columbia settling down and heading into the halftime break with some solid footing.

In that regard, the Crimson Tide would prove to be the ones who would best handle their business.

With the second quarter clock rapidly starting to melt down, Columbia began to work their lead back up, eventually heading into the halftime recess with ownership of the 41-29 advantage following an absolute dime of an assist hurled by Hov Glover to a ready and waiting Brady Smith standing all by his lonesome in the corner with Smith proceeding to bury the enormous trifecta just moments before the buzzer blared out, effectively ushering the Crimson Tide into the break with a clear edge in terms of momentum.

While the Columbia effort on Wednesday night was certainly well-rounded and balanced in terms of scoring, the one who would go on to finish with game-high scoring honors would be Hov Glover as the Crimson Tide’s point guard capped the evening off by bucketing 23 points once the night was over with. And while Glover was certainly damaging in terms of putting the rock through the net against Antietam, he was arguably far more dangerous when creating for others.

Aside from his no-look bullet-like pass to Brady Smith right before the break, Glover consistently and willingly proceeded to show off his high basketball IQ by feeding his teammates in a manner that only a truly elite point guard can do. With that mind, it probably should have come as no surprise whatsoever to see Glover pick up right where he had left of in the first half as another Glover dump off, this one to 6’1 senior forward, Ryan Redding, propelled Columbia out to the 47-34 lead once the third quarter got underway.

At that point, it was evident that Columbia’s early push in the infancy of the second half had helped pester the Antietam contingent to the boiling point as the Mounts were then dinged with a technical foul at the 4:41 mark of the third period, allowing the Crimson Tide to up their lead to an almost unreachable level for the orange-clad Mounts to try and rally back from. In fact, the Columbia lead had quickly ballooned up to the 20-point threshold in the aftermath of the ill-timed stoppage as a Hector Tiburcio bucket inside, a deuce that helped the Mounts’ sophomore forward finish the night with a 17-point performance, making it a 60-40 Columbia lead with the third frame starting to wind down.

From there, the Crimson Tide continued to poke and prod their guests in search of finding some additional breathing room heading into the final stanza, which they would later capture as Columbia later went off into the final quarter with decisive ownership of the 65-46 lead.

Yet to their credit, even with the bulk of the damage already having been administered against them, Antietam continued to show fight, grit, and a general overall moxiness that will undoubtedly serve them well heading into the stretch run of their campaign despite their overwhelming deficit heading into the final eight minutes on Wednesday night in the town that sits on the furthest possible western edge of Lancaster County.

In fact, even though the Columbia lead had creeped back up past 20 points near the five-minute mark of the fourth quarter, the Mounts would eventually get things back within 13 over the course of the next four minutes as an Alejandro Montero bucket inside for Antietam made it a 76-63 ballgame in the waning moments.

However, that would ultimately prove to be where things would remain once all was said and done as Columbia had effectively handled their business against an underrated, dangerous, and more than capable nonconference foe in Antietam hailing from the Berks County on Wednesday night, 76-63.

 

NEXT UP: As Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz would say, “There’s no place like home.” For Columbia, that phrase certainly now rings true in spades.

Following their win over Antietam on Wednesday, the Crimson Tide come right back for a Thursday night Section Five makeup game against Annville-Cleona following the snow-out that affected the entire Lancaster-Lebanon League on Tuesday night. And while that is certainly critical in terms of the Crimson Tide perhaps capturing that aforementioned Section Five crown this season, the stakes – albeit in nonconference competition – gets ratcheted up to an entirely different level on Friday night when arguably the best player in the state of Pennsylvania, Chance Westry, and his fellow Trinity Shamrocks — last season’s silver medalist in the PIAA-3A state tournament — roll into town for a game that could be billed an early preview of the District 3-3A title game come late February at the Giant Center. And as if that wasn’t already enough, the Crimson Tide will then welcome the Garden Spot Spartans on top of the hill as well on Tuesday night for a rematch of their double-overtime thriller on the opening night of the L-L League playoffs last season.

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