By Tony Maluso
Coal is not what you want to see in your stocking Christmas morning.
For Eastwood coach Gary Lemle, he saw the one thing he didn't want Thursday at Columbian: Jocelyn Cole behind the 3-point line.
Time after time, Cole set up behind the arc.
Time after time, 3-pointer after 3-pointer, Cole knocked them down.
Seven times in all.
Cole fell one trifecta short of tying her own school record, but her 23 points, and a good team effort was enough for Columbian to down Eastwood 59-50.
"When she's hot, and she gets in a rhythm, which she did tonight, that was critical to us," Lemle said. "For some reason, we didn't communicate on screens and didn't find her on the perimeter well enough, and that's disappointing because that's what we worked on in practice."
"She caught fire," said Columbian coach Katie Fazekas, whose Tornadoes improved to 3-5. "It's fun to watch her shoot like that. We've seen nights like that, but anytime you can see a high school kid's work pay off, and they catch fire like that, it's something special."
Cole began heating up in the second quarter. With Eastwood leading 15-12, Cole knocked down one 3-pointer to tie things up. Later with the score tied at 17, Cole knocked down two more sandwiched around a basket by Valesha Province to give the Tornadoes the lead for good.
"My team made shots and it opened it up for me," Cole said. "It was a confidence booster for the whole team."
While Cole and Columbian was heating up, Eastwood was cooling down.
If Columbian decided to put up a new gymnasium over the holidays, Lemle knows where they can get building materials.
"We threw up enough bricks to build a new gym for these guys," Lemle said. "There were some ugly shots going up. Ugh, they were scary."
The Eagles shot 1 of 13 in the quarter as Columbian opened up its lead. Cole assisted on a basket by Mackenzie Zimmerman in the closing moments of the half to send the Tornadoes into the break with a 27-19 lead.
Fazekas called the win a great team effort. In addition to Cole's night, Province added 15 points and seven rebounds, and Michaela Miller had eight points and six rebounds.
"I thought Michaela Miller played a lot better tonight; we saw a lot of offense out of her," Fazekas said. "Megan Moore did a nice job; Valesha handled the post. I was really pleased. I thought everyone really stepped up and did their jobs tonight."
Three more trifectas from Cole helped Columbian increase the lead to 12, 46-34, heading into the fourth.
Eastwood began locking down Cole and started to mount a rally in the final period. The Eagles got within six after a Diana Bushman basket with 1:31 to play.
With Cole held in check, Province picked up the scoring and got the game's next five points to ice things.
"We talked a lot about knowing how to win," Fazekas said. "Tonight they really showed that they know how to win. I think that's a big stepping stone for us tonight."
Columbian's win was also aided by its performance on the glass. The Tornadoes out-rebounded the Eagles 29-34. Payge Smith was tops on the glass, collecting eight rebounds. Moore pulled down six.
"When we stay out of foul trouble and keep our bigs in, obviously our rebounding is a lot better," Fazekas said. "But rebounding is just hard work, and when they put that hard work in, good things happen."
Eastwood (1-6) was led by Bushman with 18 points. Presley Weaver added 11 points and nine rebounds.