If William Shakespeare would have been a basketball fan, one of his most famous lines may easily have been, “To shoot a three, or not shoot a three: that is the question.”
Well, the Columbia College Claim Jumpers were not going to spend their time questioning whether or not to shoot a three. The Jumpers didn’t just have a great night shooting from behind the arc, they had an historic night. Columbia set a new single-game school record with 18 3-point baskets in a 112-61 home victory over West Hills Lemoore Wednesday night at Oak Pavilion in Sonora.
“It feels good,” Columbia freshman Grayson Carper said about the new school record. “That’s the second record that I’ve helped set and I’m still only a freshman. It was definitely a good feeling.”
Columbia made 10 shots from downtown in the first half and the other eight came in the final 20 minutes. Sophomore Keith Shakes led the Jumpers with six baskets from 3-point land, so it was only fitting that his final trey of the night was the one to break the previous school record of 17.
Wednesday’s win is Columbia’s third in a row and 22nd overall. Yet, the Jumpers had to fight for their previous two victories, which included a 103-92 home win over Porterville and a 75-72 road win over Reedley. Before that, Columbia lost to Fresno 81-75 in a contest that was decided in the final minute. So, having a game not come down to the wire was a welcomed change.
“We accomplished what we wanted to accomplish,” Columbia head coach Rob Hoyt said. “We had a meeting today on the significance of the game. I know on paper, you probably wouldn’t think there is any significance to it, but there is, when it comes to our seeding and the postseason. It was just a good game that was needed. We had three really tough games against three really tough teams and then to have this game to get everybody involved and playing well was needed and necessary.”
Although Lemoore entered the night only second from the bottom of the Central Valley Conference standings, the Jumpers knew they couldn’t come out lackadaisical. Columbia used its 3-point shooting to start the night on fire to build an early lead.
“In a game like this, you just try to get everyone involved,” Carper said. “Sometimes when we play a team that we know we are better than, we come out slow and we come out sloppy. We wanted to come out and punch them right in the mouth right from the get-go.”
Of Columbia’s 53 points scored in the opening half, 30 of them came from behind the arc. In the first half, the Jumpers made 10 3-point baskets, 10 field goals and three free throws to build a 53-29 lead.
Columbia attacked the rim more in the second half, which resulted in quick baskets in the paint. Sophomore Kaleb Carter threw down two dunks on back-to-back possessions to excite the Oak Pavilion crowd and the Jumpers continued to be hot from behind the arc, with four baskets from Shakes and three from Carper.
Carper finished the night with a game-high 29 points, which included five 3-point baskets; Shakes scored 20 points; Deshawn Bartley had 16 points and two 3-point baskets; Landis Spivey had 15 points and two 3-point baskets; Carter had eight points; Kyndle Terrell-Jones had seven points and one 3 pointer; Seth Coddington made two shots from downtown and finished with seven points; Kaden Sparks-Davis had six points; and Kenyon Pierce had four points.
Up next for Columbia (22-3, 8-3 CVC) is what Hoyt called the biggest game of the year. Sequoias (20-5, 9-2 CVC) makes its way to Oak Pavilion for Columbia’s final regular season home game. The Jumpers lost on the road earlier in the season to Sequoias 82-76 and they are looking to avenge that defeat.
“They beat us and they earned it,” Hoyt said of the loss to Sequoias. “They played better than us. We want to win and there’s a lot of significance for winning for both teams, which makes it exciting and a draw for people to watch. The grit, the passion and the pride has to be there, or we won’t win. I’m looking forward to how we respond and how the next two days of practice go and what type of group of ours shows up on Saturday. I think I know which one will.”
Columbia will then wrap up the regular season on the road with games against Merced and West Hills Coalinga. With the playoffs all but guaranteed, Hoyt and his players aren’t overlooking their next three games, but they are ready and excited for what’s still to come.
“I think they are confident and they feel they are going to win every game and we have the ability to do that,” Hoyt said. “We are all focused on Saturday. When the time comes when we get seeded and find out who we have to play (in the playoffs), we’ll have a week to prepare for them and hopefully, we’ll be feeling good.”