COLUMBIA, Ill. • The Waterloo High boys basketball team had been in a bit of shooting slump before play started in the Columbia-Freeburg Holiday Tournament on Thursday.
By Friday, the slump was officially busted as the Bulldogs hit eight first-half 3-pointers, including five in the first quarter to blitz Monroe County rival Columbia 67-36 in the semifinals.
Junior Ryan Aycock nailed four 3-pointers in the first frame to help Waterloo (4-4) race to a 16-4 first quarter lead.
"I guess we broke out of it," Aycock said of his team's shooting woes. "It was fun watching everybody shoot (and connecting)."
Jonny Albers also had a first quarter 3-pointer as did senior guard Ben Gardner. Albers added a second one in the second frame as did Aycock.
After sprinting out to the big lead in the first quarter, the Bulldogs didn't let up. The team outscored Columbia 18-9 in the second to take a 34-13 halftime lead.
In the second half, with the defense sufficiently stretched, Waterloo began attacking inside and got an array of easy buckets from Zach Schaab and Shane Lenhardt.
"I told (the players) they were going to pack it in on us until you make your shots," Waterloo coach C.J. Cruser said. "I stressed, 'You have to make your shots.'"
The preaching resonated with the Bulldogs, who came out and seemingly couldn't miss. In addition to its terrific shooting from the perimeter, the Bulldogs also played good defense to limit any run or any thought of a run for Columbia.
Aycock finished with a game-high 15 points, Albers added 12 points and Lenhardt chipped in 11. Sophomore Korbin Farmer had nine points to lead the Eagles (4-4).
Waterloo will play the winner of Alton Marquette and Freeburg in the title game at 8 p.m. tomorrow. The Alton Marquette-Freeburg loser plays Columbia in the third-place game at 6:30 p.m.
Civic Memorial and Hillsboro play in the fifth-place game at 5 p.m., while Metro East Lutheran and Lovejoy will play for seventh place at 3:30 p.m. Dupo and Lebanon play at 2 p.m. for ninth place. All games are at Columbia High School.
In other tournament games:
CIVIC MEMORIAL 70, DUPO 49 • Brett Lane scored 12 points, while Zack Lehnen and Ben Walker scored nine points apiece to lead the Eagles past the Tigers (1-10) in a fifth place quarterfinals game. LeRandy Warren and Jakob Lowrance combined for 16 points for Civic Memorial.
DeAndre Brown had a game-high 17 points and Joey Mirabal added 11 points for Dupo.
CIVIC MEMORIAL 56, METRO EAST LUTHERAN 39 • Jansen Helmkamp had 14 points and Jakob Lowrance chipped in 10 points to lead the Eagles (5-6) past the Knights (7-7) in the fifth-place semifinals.
Jason Johnson scored 14 points to lead Metro East Lutheran.
Civic Memorial will play Hillsboro at 5 p.m. on Saturday.