Union Democrat staff

The Columbia Claim Jumpers knew that playing in Fresno was going to be difficult. In the past three years under head coach Rob Hoyt, Columbia is 0-3 and lost by an average score of 99-62.

On Wednesday, the final two undefeated teams in the Central Valley Conference squared up, and once again, it was Fresno who got the better of Columbia with a 65-49 win.

At halftime, Columbia trailed Fresno 28-21. But the Rams outscored the Jumpers 37-28 in the second half.

“Although the result wasn’t what we wanted, our team improved tonight,” said Hoyt. “We grew as a unit. I look forward to practice the remainder of the week and the road trip ahead. I love my guys and this is a great group.”

Columbia freshman Ethan McLaurin played his best game of the year, according to Hoyt. He finished the game with 14 points and hit four 3s in the second half.

Sophomore DeAndre Stallings also added 14 points in the loss. Lewayne Grant scored 10, Jordan Windley scored six, Eli McLaurin added three and Eugene Harvey scored two.

Columbia (7-7, 2-1 CVC) has its longest road trip of the year as it takes on Cerro Coso Saturday. The Jumpers will leave for the 334-mile trip to Ridgecrest Friday afternoon.