These 'Cats have clawsColumbus makes a statement by blowing out Lone Tree in its season opener
COLUMBUS JUNCTION — Columbus point guard Martha Anaya said she was very nervous prior to the start of Friday’s season-opening game against Lone Tree on Friday night.
But the Wildcats showed no jitters once the game tipped off, streaking out to a 16-0 lead over the visiting Lions. Columbus went on to win 51-35.
“We were really excited. And very nervous,” said Anaya, who was one of four Wildcats making their first career start. “I was a nervous wreck. But we came out and played really good defense.”
Columbus senior Shelly Stewart opened the game by knocking down a 15-foot jumper. Anaya, a junior, nailed a runner while being fouled, and she converted the free throw to put the Wildcats up 5-0. Senior Caitlin Chaney made one of two free throws, and then sophomore Kelsey Pretz put back a missed shot. Pretz then came up with a steal, dishing it ahead to Chaney, who laid the ball in and got fouled. She converted the free throw, and Columbus led 11-0.
Columbus made its first four shots, while Lone Tree turned the ball over on its first four possessions.
“You put in the first few plays that you want to script,” Lone Tree head coach Travis Pierson said. “We have about eight things right away that we want to do, and we did seven of them wrong.”
Chaney drained a 3-pointer from the corner, and freshman Laura Mincks put back a missed shot as Columbus took a 16-0 lead. Finally, nearly five minutes into the game, Lone Tree junior Abbie Schmidt scored a layup to put the Lions on the board. Lone Tree had missed its first five shots and committed eight turnovers before finally lighting the visitors’ side of the scoreboard.
But things never got much better for Lone Tree, which never got closer than 13 points the rest of the way. The Lions committed 29 turnovers, shot 23 percent from the field and were whistled for 30 fouls in the contest.
“Sometimes things don’t go your way,” Pierson said. “We’ve just got to get better, and I think we will.”
Columbus got to the free-throw line 45 times in the contest, but was only able to make 20 charity shots.
“We won in spite of free-throw shooting,” Columbus head coach Nathan Carlson said.
Anaya scored 13 points to lead the Wildcats. Chaney and Stewart added nine points apiece, and senior Megan Pretz had seven points to go with 13 rebounds.
Junior Madelyn Flemr had a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds for Lone Tree.
It was a statement win for the Wildcats, who were playing without their leading scorer from last year (Heaven Chandler is out until January after tearing her ACL this summer) against a team that traditionally is one of the best in the Southeast Iowa Super Conference’s North Division.
“I think this game is going to set the tone for the rest of our season,” Megan Pretz said. “I’m really proud of my team for coming out and getting this win tonight.”
“It’s definitely a great start,” Carlson said. “Anytime you walk out of here with a win, whether it’s a one-point victory or a 16-point victory, it’s a great start. It’s a step in the right direction.
“It’s a great day to be a Wildcat,” Carlson added. “At least for today.”