CHS girls: A team of togetherness

February 21, 2019

Columbus High girls basketball saw its season come to an end on Jan. 13 when the Discovers lost to South Sioux City 62-39 in the championship game of the B-5 sub-district at South Sioux City.

The Discoverers finished the season with a 4-17 record with wins over Lexington, Hastings and Blair.

South Sioux City, ranked No. 6 in the latest Lincoln Journal Star Prep Ratings, defeated Columbus once this year alrearly early in the season.

That final though, was by a 40-point margin. CHS was almost half as close the second time, but still had trouble making up the difference against one of the top teams in Class B.

“They’re a little bit better than we are,” said head coach Dave Licari. “I thought we just ran out of gas. I think it was just a combination of not having a really deep bench, and part of running out of gas has was how hard we worked in the first half.”

Turnovers, and an element that has caused CHS trouble all season, shooting, were major factors. Columbus High turned it over 19 times and was just 13 of 41 shooting (32 percent) and 4 of 15 from long range.

“South Sioux is really good,” he said. “We didn’t take care of the ball as well in the second half. We played pretty well the first half.”

Columbus only trailed by four at halftime then managed just 13 second-half points..

“I’m really pleased with the way we attacked their pressure,” Licari said. “We didn’t have nearly as many turnovers as the first game we played against them. It kind of reflects on the season a little bit. I thought we were average to above average in a lot of areas, but our shooting was just. That game we probably shot 40 percent in the first half and second half we shot closer to 20 percent.”

Putting together a full 32-minute game was difficult for a mostly inexperienced Discoverer squad all season long. Yet, while many games were out of hand by halftime or the third quarter, CHS finished the season with back-to-back wins over Blair and three of its four victories in the last month.

“We didn’t have a lot of overall complete games. You hate to point everything at the shooting, but if you’re not shooting well then it magnifies everything else,” Licari said. “If you’re not hitting shots, you can’t turn the ball over, you can’t give up offensive rebounds. Those are things that are going to happen once in a while in the game of basketball.”

Despite the lackluster record, Licari said there were more positives than negatives this season. The girls came to practice every day ready to work and didn’t let all the missed shots affect their confidence.

Though the team went on extended losing streaks, Licari said there were no signs of that in preparation.

“Just the attitude they kept the whole season,” he said. “I don’t think at any point in the season could you have come into the gym and been able to tell whether we had a winning record, a .500 record or a losing record based on how hard the kids are working and the attitude they showed on the court.”

Though 2018/19 was a season of learning and development, 2019/20 may be similar. Columbus only returns four players who saw significant minutes. That group is a good starting point, but almost every one of them will be in new roles.

Outside of once, a senior led the team in scoring in every game.

For the growth Columbus had late in the season to continue, Licari says a commitment has to be made to offseason and summer training. Still, it’s unlikely Licari will have a handle on his squad until they’re all back together in the gym.

A good starting point would be following the lead of seniors Lauren Benck, Aspen Luebbe, Macee Trotta and Alyssa Turner doing their part to bring the team together.

“They were so accepting of everyone. It wasn’t just the seniors and everybody else,” Licari said. “Sometimes it ends up that way. This year it was the seniors with everybody else.

Peter Huguenin is a sports reporter for the Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at sports@columbustelegram.com