Discoverers lose heartbreaker
Columbus High boys basketball fell just short against Grand Island on Tuesday night, missing two go-ahead shots inside the final five seconds. A 3-pointer then a half-court prayer both went unanswered in a 47-46 loss to the Islanders.
CHS trailed for most of the game, began to turn the tide late in the third quarter, but much like another home loss on Jan. 11 to Lexington, the comeback came just a little too late.
Columbus fell to 2-11 on the season while Grand Island improved to 6-9.
“I’m proud of our guys,” said CHS head coach Jimmy Motz. “The win-loss column doesn’t show the growth that they’ve made in the last three weeks. A lot of guys are finding new roles.”
Columbus was down 14 with 2:26 to go in the third quarter before mounting a 15-2 run over the next eight minutes.
“Now it’s just a matter of making a play,” Motz said. “We have to hit free throws. It’s little things now that are correctable. At one point we had three freshmen on the court tonight.”
Grand Island’s roster features three players 6-4 or taller. To counteract this, Motz said the game plan was to play a soft man-to-man defense.
Much Biel, a 6-7 Islander senior, scored 34 points the last time out in a win over North Platte. Tuesday he managed just 11.
Still, Columbus trailed by seven after the first eight minutes, six at halftime and six again after three.
Columbus worked its way back in starting with a free throw by Ean Luebbe, a 3-pointer by Cole Wilcox, a layup by Ernest Hausmann and a putback by Garrett Esch at the end of the third.
Esch also scored the first points of the fourth quarter but Grand Island ended the streak 10 straight Columbus points with a layup. The Discoverers weren’t done yet though.
Esh sank a jumper and Hausmann converted three shots at the line after drawing a foul on a 3-point attempt. With 2:32 to go, it was a 43-42 game.
The Islanders scored on a layup to push the lead back to three but the Discoverers answered again on Sam Nelson’s make from beyond the arc.
Nelson took a charge 30 seconds later, but an errant pass out of bounds turned it back over.
Junior Landon Thompson grabbed a rebound on a Grand Island miss, and Esch was fouled on the other end with 53 seconds remaining.
Esch connected on 1 of 2 from the line to give Columbus a 47-46. The Islanders took the lead right back on the next trip, getting the ball to Biel in the paint.
He made the layup despite contact and a foul. His follow up free throw was no good, keeping CHS within one.
Motz signaled for a timeout and drew up a play that sent Blake Edzards into the lane for a pass to Hausmann who had a step on his defender on the perimeter.
His shot bounced off the rim and hit the shot clock, giving the possession back over to Grand Island.
Columbus fouled with 2.4 seconds remaining to extend the game, Grand Island missed the front end of a one-and-one and the Discoverers collected the rebound and took another timeout.
Hausmann had another chance, but had to two-hand an off-balance shot from 47 feet and watched helplessly as it sailed off to the left.
Columbus is back in action at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Hastings.
“We didn’t quit,” Motz said. “We kept fighting. That’s what you want to see out of your group. Obviously there hasn’t been a lot of wins this year, but I’m very proud of how these kids have come back.”
Peter Huguenin is a sports reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com