SHELBYVILLE — Shelbyville kept leaving the door open for a Columbus North comeback Friday night, but the Bull Dogs couldn’t break through.
North did rally from an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to tie the game with 1:28 remaining. But the Golden Bears retook the lead, and the Bull Dogs missed four potential game-tying shots in the final 40 seconds of a 57-54 loss.
“I thought we finally settled in and started playing better defense in the fourth quarter,” North coach Paul Ferguson said. “Unfortunately, we had just dug ourselves too much of a hole. We climbed back in it, but too many times in the fourth we picked up an unnecessary foul.”
Fortunately for the Bull Dogs (1-2), Shelbyville (3-0) didn’t take advantage of many of those fouls. The Golden Bears missed two of their first nine shots from the line in the fourth quarter, allowing North to rally from a 44-33 deficit to a 51-51 tie.
Shelbyville’s Brock Blackwell scored on an offensive rebound with 58 seconds left to give the Golden Bears the lead back.
After the Bull Dogs missed a pair of shots in the lane, Shelbyville’s Damon Lux hit two free throws for a 55-51 lead.
North cut the deficit in half on a basket from Trey Vincent with 30 seconds left. But after the Golden Bears missed two more free throws, Vincent missed a driving layup with 15 seconds remaining.
The Bull Dogs retained possession, and Alex King made the second of two free throws with 11 seconds left to make it 55-54.
Shelbyville’s John Lux made one free throw with 10 seconds left and missed the second, but the Golden Bears grabbed the rebound. Zack Kuhn then made a free throw with eight seconds remaining to make it 57-54 and Stephon Peters-Smith missed a 3-pointer from the left corner as time ran out.
“We executed,” Ferguson said. “Unfortunately, we gave up two offensive rebounds on free-throw situations that killed us.”
North was also plagued by 19 turnovers. Eight of those came in the third quarter, when it managed only six points.
“Nineteen is way too many,” Ferguson said. “You’re not going to win many games with 19.”
The Bull Dogs led on a couple of occasions in the first half, and the game was tied at 19 early in the second quarter before Shelbyville went on an 11-0 run to take control. The Golden Bears led 34-27 at halftime.
“We didn’t play well in the first half at all, and at halftime, coach let us know what we were doing wrong,” North point guard Nathan VanDeventer said.
“I thought we came out with a lot of energy the second half. It was good for us to come back.”
“I didn’t like our first half,” Ferguson said. “I thought we made too many defensive mistakes and allowed them to get that lead. But I thought there was a lot to build on for the fourth quarter.”
King finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds to lead North. VanDeventer added nine points.
“We’re a young team, but that’s not an excuse,” VanDeventer said. “We just have to play hard and buy into the coaches’ system, and we just have to believe in each other. Right now, we’re struggling, but once we buy in and believe in each other, we’ll be all right.
“Confidence at our age is huge,” he said. “When you can get a couple games under your belt, especially how young we are, it’s a momentum builder for the whole organization.”