COLUMBUS — It’s been almost a month since Columbus High played on its home court, but for head coach Jimmy Motz, Saturday’s home game against No. 4 Aurora felt like déjà vu.
Landon Thompson hit a 3-pointer at the second-quarter buzzer to give Columbus a 36-24 halftime lead.
Then it all unraveled for the Discoverers (8-5), a ratings contender in Class B.
The Huskies (10-2) came roaring back to beat Columbus 58-55.
“It’s a tough one,” Motz said. “We gave one away.”
The Discoverers had a chance to tie the game at the final buzzer, but couldn’t get a clean look from distance.
On Dec. 19 against Seward, the Discoverers’ last home game, Blake Petersen hit a 3-pointer to put Columbus up 14 on the Bluejays. Then Seward came all the way back and won by 11.
“I’m searching for an answer,” Motz said.
In the first half Saturday, Columbus was getting everything it wanted offensively.
Andy Pike’s 3-pointer with less than 10 seconds left in the first quarter gave Columbus a 17-16 lead after eight minutes of play.
The Discoverers followed that with 19 second-quarter points.
Columbus scored the first five points of the second quarter to take a 22-16 advantage.
Later in the quarter, Pike hit his second 3-pointer of the game to push Columbus’ lead to double figures at 30-20. A violation by Aurora on an inbounds led to another Pike trey and the Discoverers were up 33-20.
Thompson’s 3-pointer at the first-half buzzer made it 36-24 going into the break.
Motz talked to his team about starting strong in the third quarter, but Columbus did the exact opposite. The Discoverers turned the ball over on four of their first five possessions of the second half as Aurora scored eight straight points to open the period.
Henry Penner’s 3-pointer at the buzzer evened the score at 43-all.
The Huskies hit a free throw to open the fourth quarter, giving them their first lead since late in the opening period.
Columbus retook the lead briefly before another Penner trey put Aurora ahead 49-48. CHS never led again.
The Huskies made all seven of their free-throw attempts down the stretch to hold off Columbus.
“I thought we played timid and scared in the second half,” Motz said. “It almost looked like somebody didn’t want the ball. We didn’t finish, end of story.”
Telegram Super Senior Michael Koch led Columbus with 17 points.
Penner, Koch’s teammate over the summer on the Bison-Nebraska Red select team, scored a game-high 20 points for Aurora.
Jaz Ackerson drew the primary defensive assignment on South Dakota State commit Baylor Scheierman and limited the 6-foot-6 guard to just three made field goals, none from beyond the arc. Scheierman finished with 16 points, making all 10 of his free-throw attempts, including the last six for the Huskies.
“That was a great effort by Jaz,” Motz said. “And Michael, too, for the most part. He made Penner earn everything.”
Columbus hosts No. 10 Crete on Friday.