North cruises into regional final

BLOOMINGTON — Columbus North and Bloomington North appeared to be on a collision course for a third meeting this season, and after shutout victories Tuesday, that meeting will happen.

The Bull Dogs beat Seymour 5-0, and the Cougars downed Greensburg 5-0 in the Bloomington North Regional semifinals. Columbus North will face the host Cougars in the regional final at 5 p.m. today.

Eighth-ranked Bloomington North defeated the Bull Dogs 4-1 in both of the regular-season matches.

“We were a lot closer in our second match than in our first match,” North coach Kendal Hammel said. “There are some spots where we can really compete with them. I just hope the guys come in and know that the pressure is not on us, but more on them. Hopefully, we can relax and be able to have to opportunity of trying to beat these guys in our third try.

“We know what they are going to do and they know what we are going to do,” he said. “It now is just a matter of execution.”

The Bull Dogs (13-7) dropped only 10 games as a team in their match against the Owls.

At No. 1 singles, North’s Aditya Mantri had and early 3-0 lead in the first set against Alex Berry, but Berry came back to win the next two games to make it 3-2. Mantri won the final four games to win 6-2, then closed out the match with a 6-2 second set.

“He has been dynamite for me the past couple weeks,” Seymour coach Brad Emerson said of Berry. “He has been hitting the ball with more confidence. He did a great job against Aditya today. The match was a lot closer than the score indicated.”

At No. 2 singles, North’s Kevin Luo downed Ty McCory 6-0, 6-0. In another competitive match at No. 3 singles, North’s Anay Gangal cruised to a 6-1, 6-2 win against Adam Berry.

“He played really consistent in the match,” Gangal said. “He did not make much unforced errors, so I had to just keep control of the point, stay aggressive and make sure the points fall my way.”

At No. 1 doubles, North’s Nathan VanDeventer and Kevin Lin topped Grant Handloser and Josiah Rudge 6-0, 6-2. At No. 2 doubles, the Bull Dogs’ Daniel Larken and Ammar Khaled downed Sam Voss and Hao Li 6-0, 6-1.

“We went out there and played our best, but Columbus North is a really good team,” Emerson said. “They are strong in a lot of areas, and they know how to exploit our weaknesses. Overall, I was pleased with the effort tonight.”

“It was a fine effort today all across the board,” Hammel said. “I told them to carry over what you did today and carry it over into the next match. I hope they come out confident and ready to play.”

The Owls finish the season 10-11.

“I think we exceeded a lot of expectations this season,” Emerson said. “Last year, we had five wins; this year we got to 10. With as young as this group is, there was a lot of growing pains, especially at No. 1 singles, and our No. 1 doubles spot after moving up from No. 2 doubles last season. They faced much tougher competition.

“I am really happy with the season and proud of the guys,” he said. “Winning sectional (Monday) night was a very great moment for us.”

Also today, Columbus East’s Matt Furnish and Sammy Woolwine play Madison’s Christian Brown and Zach Burnett will play in the individual doubles regional final. East’s Alex Galle and Jennings County’s Owen Land will play in individual singles regional semifinals today and could meet for the regional title Saturday.