It may have been the last game at Tom Drake Coliseum on the campus of Wallace State College, but the Columbia Eagles and the Dora Bulldogs made sure that the fans there to watch them participate in the Northwest Regional, Class 4A championship game was treated to a thriller. Columbia (23-10) first extended out to a huge lead late in the first half and then the Bulldogs attempted to get back into the game for the win. However, the Eagles had built a huge-enough lead that Dora was unable to come back.
“I want the kids and the assistant coaches to be given all the credit for what has become of this program,” said Columbia head coach Jeff Cooper. “It is because of the players and the coaches we have been able to build this program and are where we are today.”
Dora (29-5) opened the game up with a hot-hand and led by six points with a 10-4 advantage with 4:18 left in the quarter. The Eagles then went on a 12-5 run to close out the first stanza, with Columbia taking the lead with a shot by Marlin Clemmons. Tevin Simon had gotten the Eagles into a single point on a 3-pointer and Columbia forced a quick turnover creating the opportunity for Clemons to give his team the lead.
Pat Smart got a quick shot to start the second quarter for the Eagles and Dora then got a shot to fall by Jo Jo Wells to make the score 18-17. That would be the only points for the Bulldogs in the second period, as Columbia closed out the first half on a 15-0 run and led 33-17 going into the locker room.
Columbia extended its lead out to 46-25 with 2:09 left in the third quarter and the Bulldogs then began their run to get back into the game, but ran out of time, as the Eagles held on for a 61-53 victory and will make their first trip to the AHSAA Final 48. The Eagles will play Brewbaker Tech Wednesday, February 24 at 5:30 p.m.
The Eagles were led by Smart with 17 points and seven rebounds, Robert Flowers led in rebounds with 14, three each in steals and points and one blocked shot, Dionte Kelly followed with 16 points, two boards and three assists, Marcus Parker added six points, two steals and a rebound, and Kantwon Rogers with a rebound.
Also for Columbia Marlin Clemons added six points, four assist and two rebounds, Tevin Simon followed with six point and rebound, Denzel Harrison contributed with four each in points and steals, and three rebounds, Hosie Seal added one each in assists and boards, and Rod Fisher chipped in with three points, two assists and a rebound.
Dora was led by Keegan Tarver with a game-high 26 points and a rebound, Jamichael Swain followed with six points, 10 rebounds, two blocked shots and a steal, Wells contributed with 13 points, four boards and a steal, Michael Forest finished with nine rebounds, one each in blocked shots and assists, three steals and two points, Jerian McLemore added three points, three boards and a blocked shot, and Randall Belk added three points.