Contributors: David Perez, Phillip Bootsma, and Orlando Hidalgo
The Columbus basketball team (9-13) went into Friday night hoping to avenge their blowout loss they suffered at the hands of the Cobras earlier in the season, by playing South Miami on their home court on Senior Night.
To continue the Columbus Senior Night tradition, all four Columbus seniors– Jose Mas, Kevin Logue, David Martel, and Angel Sosa– started the game along with sophomore sensation Dante Pace. There obstacle in taking down South Miami (18-6) was to cut off the head of the Cobra early– Ezacuras Dawson III. Dawson, a 6’3” stud junior guard who is being recruited by top Division One schools such as Louisville, is the key to South Miami’s offense.
The Explorers came out of the gate very cold, missing their first seven shots. However, the defense was shutting down the Cobra three point shooting arsenal well, only allowing a team that scored 67 points on them just a month ago, to only 11 points in the first quarter. Columbus couldn’t find their stroke early though, and were only able to put five points on the scoreboard through eight minutes. The seniors stayed scoreless for Columbus as the baskets came from junior forward Manny Rodriguez and freshman forward Gary Cooper.
South Miami had a lot more success in the second quarter starting off the quarter hot making three of their first four shots. By the halfway point of the quarter, South Miami had a 13 point lead. Things would die down from there though, and neither team scored for the next two and a half minutes. South Miami would tack on a couple more baskets from there, and at the end of the first half the Cobras led 23-7. The Explorers poor shooting woes continued, with the team only scoring one basket the entire quarter. If Columbus wanted to make this a special night for the seniors in their last game on Br. Kevin Court, they would need to turn things around quickly and begin making shots offensively at a consistent pace.
The second half started off slow with both teams exchanging blows through the first three minutes of the quarter. Manny Rodriguez and Jose Mas led Columbus to score eight points in the third quarter, however weren’t able to stop the Cobra shooting. The deficit stayed at 16 points going into the fourth quarter with a score of 31-15.
After some early buckets in the fourth from the lethal Cobra squad and a deep three from Zach Dawson, Columbus was forced to call timeout down 22 with six minutes to go. The Explorers were able to connect on some shots out of the timeout, however it was too little too late. The South Miami lead was already out of hand, and there wasn’t enough offensive production to climb Columbus back into it. Columbus head coach Henry Lorenzo gave his seniors a proper curtain call, taking them four out with 1:58 to play amongst a screaming crowd. The outcome wasn’t one that the fan base hoped for though, as Columbus would ultimately fall at the hand of the Cobras by a final score of 45 to 31. Zach Dawson finished with 16 points for South Miami, leading all scorers in the game.
Even though the seniors weren’t able to steal a victory away from South Miami on their last home game, they’re not done just yet. The Explorers punched their ticket into the District Playoffs with their victory at Braddock on Wednesday, and will be taking on the Ferguson Falcons next week. Columbus will definitely have to learn from this loss and use it as motivation moving forward to have success in the playoffs.
Watch the whole game right here, with commentary from CCNN Sports Analysts Victor Prieto and Sebastian Valdes-Denis.