It took the Columbus High girls a half to find their stride but the Discoverers eventually did and showed some signs of promise in a jamboree exhibition game with Omaha Marian on Saturday afternoon at home.
The contest was played as two half-games with the visitors taking the first 16 minutes 33-18 before CHS dropped a 28-23 decision in the next 16 minutes.
Seven different Columbus players scored points, led by Jaleigh Adams-Tuls with nine, while 14 played at least one minute. Osmunda Izaguirre was tops in rebounding with seven, and Tayler Braun and Gracie Luebbe both had four assists and three steals.
The game was part of a benefit for the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame Foundation with proceeds donated directly to support the continued growth and expansion of the hall. The Columbus boys hosted Omaha Creighton Prep in the game that followed.
"Scoring over 40, that was one of our struggles last year, putting up points and hitting shots. We shot 41 or 42 percent, but if you're shooting that high, but only scoring 41, we turned it over too much," head coach Dave Licari said.
"They pressed and ran a 1-3-1 quarter-court, and we basically have one ball handler who played last year. We have some girls getting their feet wet right now at the varsity level."
Luebbe is the leading returning scorer for a group that graduated four seniors, three of whom were regular starters.
Joining Luebbe with returning experience is Adams-Tuls and Izaguirre in the post, then a bunch of others who were either regular backups or had inconsistent playing time because of inconsistent performance. That includes five others that, by theory, should take a step with a year of practice and competition.
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Saturday was somewhat of a reflection of that with a 15-point loss followed by an improved, five-point setback.
"The jamboree is great to get yourself ready for the first week of games ahead," Licari said. "We got to see a couple of really good guards who started as freshmen and sophomores that are juniors now. They had nine 3s as a team and those two had seven of the nine, real good ball handlers who can also attack the basket."
Licari, the coaching staff and the girls returned to work Monday, reviewed film then hit the court for four days of practice ahead of a road game Friday at Beatrice then home Saturday afternoon against South Sioux City.
"The big message will be, most of our errors are correctable. They weren't due to them being way more athletic or things around those lines," Licari said. "It's more about, 'OK, the ball is here, and this is where you need to be.' Almost all correctable stuff, which is a good thing."
Columbus went 4-17 a year ago that included nine losses right out of the gate until a win on Jan. 11.
"Right now, out of 14 girls on varsity, we've probably got four or five or six that are all really close together right now," Licari said. "The evaluation process just continues through every practice, every game."
Nate Tenopir is the sports editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.