Union Democrat reports

Rob Hoyt on Saturday night probably scored the biggest win in his four years as head coach of the Columbia Claim Jumpers.

But he’s going to wait until Wednesday, and then Saturday, and then probably the last two games of the season to see how big it really was.

Freshman Jordan Windley scored a game-high 27 points and sophomore DeAndre Stallings added 23 points to lead the Claim Jumpers past the Central Valley Conference leading Fresno City Rams 93-88 in front of an excited crowd at Oak Pavilion.

It was the Jumpers fourth straight victory and first over Fresno in many years.

“(Beating Fresno) It’s up there for sure, but it depends on how we follow it up,” Hoyt said. “If we lose to Cerro Coso Wednesday, it won’t mean anything.”

The Jumpers had to play most of Saturday’s game without one of the best players in the league, sophomore Lewayne Grant who rolled his ankle in the first half. The sophomore had eight points but didn’t return to the floor. Hoyt said he is day-to-day.

Columbia led 45-40 at halftime and kept the five-point when the final whistle blew.

“We didn’t skip a beat, everybody rose to the challenge,” Hoyt said. “We took good shots and were great on the defensive end. The people in attendance got to see a high-level college basketball game. It took everybody to win that game.”

The game was also physical with 57 fouls called, 33 on the Rams. Columbia shot 32 of 43 from the charity stripe and Fresno was 25 of 37. Stallings fouled out with about four minutes left in the game leaving the Jumpers with nothing but freshmen on the floor.

And again they didn’t miss a beat, or very many free throws. They hit 20 of 25 in the second half.

We controlled the tempo, the physicality and we were mentally tougher than they were Saturday night,” Hoyt said.

Also for Columbia (12-9, 7-3 CVC), Joseph Babineaux scored 10 points, Ethan McLaurin had eight, Eli McLaurin had seven, Elan Spencer six and Eugene Harvey had four.

The Jumpers hit nine 3-pointers to the Rams’ seven.

Fresno beat Columbia 65-49 in their first meeting Jan. 11 in the valley.

The CVC has become a tight race with the Jumpers and Merced (15-8, 7-3 CVC) just one game behind Fresno, who has won the league title for 15 straight seasons.

“We need some help, but we’re knocking at the door,” Hoyt said. “And it starts Wednesday with Cerro Coso. I think we’ve got the formula internally. The grit of this group, we’ve just gotta keep grinding.”

Columbia plays its final two home games of the regular season Wednesday and Saturday against Porterville. Both games tip-off at 6 p.m.

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