After Columbus East fell behind East Central 11-4 midway through the first quarter Friday night, Olympians coach Brent Chitty had a little talk with his team.
The jist of the message: “Start talking on defense.”
The Olympians got the message. After allowing 11 points over the first 3½ minutes, they gave up only 33 over the final 28½ minutes in posting a 56-44 win.
“At the very beginning, we weren’t very patient,” Umphress said. “We weren’t talking on defense. We weren’t doing what we need to do to win ball games. (Chitty) just said ‘If you’re not going to talk, you can’t play.’
“He got into us and made sure we were going to talk from there on out,” he said. “After we got ripped a little bit, we came into it, and we started playing our game again, being patient on offense and knocking down shots and playing defense.”
The Olympians (8-7) still trailed 13-9 with six minutes left in the first half when they went on a game-turning 15-0 run. Umphress scored eight of his game-high 17 points during the run, hitting two long 3-pointers and slamming a breakaway dunk.
“I thought we did a really good job defensively in that time frame, and then defense created some easy offense for us, and that kind of got us jump-started and got us going a little bit,” Brent Chitty said. “For us to have a chance to win, we have to play good defense.”
The Trojans (6-10) climbed back to within 33-27 with a minute left in the third quarter before the Olympians went on an 11-2 spurt to take their biggest lead at 44-28 with 4:18 left in the game. East Central got as close as 49-42 with 1:28 remaining, but Parker Chitty hit four consecutive free throws to ice it.
“I thought we played extremely well in the first half,” Brent Chitty said. “I thought the third quarter, we played OK, and then the fourth quarter we kind of drifted a little bit. We have to stay strong and finish out.”
Parker Chitty finished with 14 points, while Kevin Williams added 12 for the Olympians. Alex Galle grabbed 11 rebounds to lead them to a 24-22 advantage on the boards.
“We were waiting for Connor Umphress,” Parker Chitty said. “Connor Umphress is what makes us go. He started hitting some big shots, and Alex Galle played his (butt) off. It was Alex Galle’s night tonight. He played incredibly well.
“I love seeing those guys get after it and compete,” he said. “We competed tonight. It was fun.”
After committing five turnovers in the first quarter, the Olympians had only three turnovers over the final three periods. The Trojans finished with 18 turnovers.
“We know we have to take care of the ball,” Brent Chitty said. “If we take care of the basketball and work for a good shot, those are the keys to our success.”
The Olympians, who had lost three of their previous four games, broke out of a mini-slump.
“It’s nice,” Umphress said. “It will help us out mentally a little bit, but we’re still not where we need to be to win a sectional, so we have to keep improving.”
“It’s a confidence booster, especially the way Connor and Alex both played,” Parker Chitty said. “We’ve been waiting for that a long time. Now that we’ve gotten that, we know we’re going to start playing off of that. We want to be ready to go for the sectional and make a tournament run.”