Columbia drove about two hours for its GHSA Class 5A girls second-round tournament game.
And the Eagles were pretty much done only a few minutes after tipoff, although they turned in a quality final dozen minutes to avoid a rout.
Warner Robins watched a 31-point third quarter lead drop to 13 in the final three minutes, and the Demons managed a 61-43 win Thursday over Columbia at Veterans.
A large crowd was on hand for the girls start, and the home-away-from-home team was on point for awhile, scoring points.
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Warner Robins will take on Buford, a 78-41 winner Wednesday over Ware County, on Tuesday. The Demons won the coin flip and will host.
The Eagles played hard, but were frustrated by a Demons team that played harder and was sharper.
The margin reached 31 just past the midway point of the third quarter. Columbia’s effort began to turn into points, and from that point to the end of the game, the Eagles outscored the Demons 25-12.
Kezia Holmes led Warner Robins (27-1) with 19 points.
Three who mattered
Walker: The senior post had a double- double, with 12 rebounds to go with her 11 points.
Mathis: The standout guard had only six points, but wade through the lane for 11 rebounds.
Deidra Harris: Columbia’s 6-foot-2 junior was a handful, leading the way with 16 points and keep missed shots alive.
Finally: Columbia head coach Eric Bell spent much of the game pleading with officials to call a few Demons for clearing out on offense, and finally got his wish. Warner Robins was called for charging on three straight possessions in the fourth quarter as Columbia mounted a comeback toward respectability. On the other end, Warner Robins head coach Tracy Fendley wondered aloud how a team that was pressing and trapping – Columbia – had half as many fouls as the team that wasn’t.
Over the hump: Former Warner Robins girls head coach Tom Mobley was at halfcourt doing the radio broadcast and watched his former team reach the Elite Eight for the first time since 2011. The Demons also went that far under Mobley in 1994 – Fendley’s senior year – and 1996.
They said it
Fendley on what she was particularly happy about: “I’m happy we’re going to the Elite Eight, that’s what I’m happy about.”
Fendley on any postgame barking about the sluggish second half: “We talked about end-of-game scenarios, watching the clock, taking a smarter shot selection, working some time off the clock and really executing on offense. I don’t feel like we really got into our offensive sets.”
Fendley on Columbia’s delay spark: “They turned it up defensively. They tried to come back, and they had a little success. We’ve just got to do a better job next game. … I think we backed off a little bit. They didn’t get to the Sweet 16 without playing well. They were aggressive, as they should have been.”
Warner Robins won the coin flip and will host Buford next week.