By Marion Wilhoite
Columbia State Community College opened the 2016-17 basketball season with the first home game on Nov. 1 with a doubleheader split in the Webster Athletic Center with a good turnout of students, employees, loyal fans and local supporters viewing the fast-paced action.
The Columbia State men’s team rallied from a 48-44 halftime deficit to outscore West Kentucky Technical Community College 114-101.
Coach Winston Neal’s Chargers blitzed the visitors 40-14 in a second half run highlighted by a 3-point goal with 5:27 to play by A.J. Hicks making the score 100-81.
All but the 27 points scored by Hicks were tallied by freshman including 22 by guard Tavon King from Halls (TN) High School. Also scoring in double digits were Keldrick Lesure 14, Isaiah Blacksmith 13, Deshawn Wilkenson 12 and Isaiah Crawley 12.
Blacksmith pulled down 13 rebounds, while Justin Slocum collected eight. Hicks led in assists with four and steals with five.
WKTCC was led by D.J. Washington and Devon Hart with 22 and 21 points respectively, while Antione Calhoun had 17 points and led his team with eight rebounds.
Columbia shot 57.1 percent (43 of 74) from the field, but just five of 21 from beyond the three-point line. The Chargers had a 52-39 rebounding advantage and four less turnovers with 21.
The Chargers return to action on Nov. 4 with a 7 p.m. home game versus Kentucky Wesleyan.
Arkansas State Mid-South College from West Memphis turned 44 turnovers into a majority of their points in an 88-38 win in the opening game.
Columbia shot a nifty 44.4 percent from the field and 41.7 from the 3-point line but had just 27 field goal attempts because of their high number of floor mistakes and being out-rebounded 48-22.
Haley Morgan made nine of 10 shots from the field and tallied 24 points for the winners. Sable Greer and Rachel Gramling contributed 14 and 13 points respectively.
Sophomore McKenzie Haislip hit three long range baskets and paced Columbia with 10 points. Lasha Scott and Connor DePriest scored seven points apiece. Yasmine Daniel and Leah Tangerstrom had six and five rebounds respectively. DePriest led in assists with four and steals with two.
The Lady Chargers return to action on Saturday, Nov. 5 at 2 p.m. hosting Faulkner State of Mobile, Ala.