Girls basketball: Columbia 51, Chamblee 28

Columbia scored the first 19 points of the game and held Chamblee to 5 total points in the second and third quarters in a 51-28 rout Tuesday.

The defending Class AAA champs used an aggressive pressing defense to throw off the Bulldogs offense, forcing them into turnovers and converting those into points on the other end.

Leading that scoring charge for Columbia was Miah Spencer, a North Carolina State commit who finished with a team-high 21 points, most of which came during that frenzied first quarter.

She was a big part of that opening run that effectively put the game out of reach, instigated by the press that Chamblee (10-6) never figured out how to deal with.

“That’s our main goal, to play defense,” Spencer said. “That’s what we focus on the most in practice, playing defense, so we can pressure the teams for them to turn it over and get easy baskets every time.”

It just about was that simple early, as the Eagles (13-2) took a 19-6 lead into the second quarter and turned up the defensive intensity again.

Chamblee responded by scoring just 2 points in the second quarter and was seconds away from going scoreless in the third before an Auriana Broughton 3-pointer in the waning moments of the quarter.

Just before that three, the Columbia lead had swelled to a game-high 28 points, and it looked like the Eagles might win by 40 or more.

But the lid finally came off the rim for the Bulldogs at that point, as it sparked them on a 16-4 run against mostly Columbia reserves that cut it to 40-24 halfway through the fourth quarter.

The Eagles were never seriously challenged, but some lack of pressure on defense and a host of missed layups allowed Chamblee to at least claw the score back into respectability.

“In these kinds of games, once you get up about 30 points, you’re thinking about the next game,” Columbia coach Chantay Frost said. “You give some of the other girls an opportunity to try some of our defense and see if that works, try some of our offense and see if that works.”

It did plenty well enough for the Eagles to win going away, holding the Bulldogs without a field goal for the final 4 minutes.

But Spencer knows there will be nights like this during the season, and she says the team needs to maintain focus for 32 minutes.

“We’ve just got to have our mind and our body right,” Spencer said. “It’s basically just intensity the whole game.”

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