REDDING The Columbia College basketball team returned from its two-week holiday break to drop an 87-81 decision to Shasta on Saturday night.

The Claim Jumpers (10-7) took a 40-39 lead into halftime, but fell victim to foul trouble in the second half. Columbia was whistled for 17 fouls in the second half to Shasta's five, giving the Knights a huge advantage at the free-throw line (23-for-30 to Columbia's 9-for-12).

"We played a pretty good game," Columbia assistant coach Rich Murphy said. "In the second half, it was back-and-forth until the last three minutes of the game, when they were in the double bonus and we were not.

"I don't want to blame the officiating, though, because we made a couple of mistakes and turnovers at the end, when we couldn't afford to."

Colin Terry paced Columbia with career highs in both scoring (24) and rebounds (nine). Josh Houtekamer added 16 points and nine rebounds, and Brandon Russell scored 14 points.

"Colin's really stepping up and playing a lot more at the point or wings," Murphy said. "He did a good job of controlling the tempo of the game."

In Columbia's first game back from a 15-day layoff, the Jumpers played without former starting center Jeff Conaway, who left the team during the winter break and did not return from Florida. The short-handed Jumpers, who are down to 11 players, also were battling sickness as a flu bag wove its way through the locker room.

Shasta avengecd a 102-95 loss to Columbia last month in the Modesto Tournament.

The Jumpers should get a much-needed lift on Wednesday, when they not only play their first home game since Nov. 21 in the Central Valley Conference opener against the Reedley Tigers, but also expect to have forward Ben Hibbing back in the lineup.

He suffered a stress fracture in his foot in December.

After hosting Reedley, Columbia travels to defending CVC champion Fresno, which is 20-0 and ranked No. 1 in the state, on Saturday, and to West Hills of Coalinga on Wednesday, Jan. 15. Beyond that, the Claim Jumpers will host Merced and Sequoias on Jan. 18 and Jan. 22.

The Union Democrat
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