The Columbus East-Columbus North girls basketball rivalry has gone in cycles the past decade.
After the Olympians went 8-4 against the Bull Dogs from 2004-11, North turned the tables. The past four years, the Bull Dogs won all seven meetings by at least 20 points.
When the teams battle tonight at North, the game figures to be much closer. East lost on a last-second shot at East Central, a team the Bull Dogs needed to rally to beat by two points in the closing seconds.
Class 4A No. 2 North (8-0), which carries a 33-game winning streak, had another close call Tuesday when it slipped past Seymour 55-53 on a last-second shot by Maliah Howard-Bass.
“We have to play better,” North coach Pat McKee said. “We’re better than we’ve played. We can defend a little better, we can rebound a little better, we can execute our offense a little better and most importantly, we can make some shots.”
The Olympians are 5-4. They had won three in a row prior to Saturday’s 64-55 loss to Jeffersonville.
“I think we’re progressing,” East coach Danny Brown said. “We’ve improved in some areas. We have to get better at certain areas of the game. When you have a young team like we have right now, we’re going to have ups and downs, but we’re getting better and better.”
One of East’s losses came against 3A No. 2 Heritage Christian, which is 7-1, and one of its wins came against 4A No. 8 North Harrison, which is 11-1.
“We play good competition, and we’re looking forward to the challenge (today),” Brown said.
Howard-Bass leads the Bull Dogs with 17.0 points a game, while fellow junior Imani Guy adds 8.6 points. Senior Audrey Wetzel leads the Olympians with 18.1 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.3 steals.
“They have some good players, and they have the ability to score at multiple positions,” McKee said. “If we allow them to get comfortable, they can be a dangerous team.”
East, North need wins
Two boys basketball teams in desperate need of a victory will square off Friday when Columbus North visits Columbus East.
Both teams opened their seasons with home wins against Heritage Christian but haven’t won since. The Olympians have lost two in a row, while the Bull Dogs have dropped four straight.
“Our last two games against Martinsville and Franklin Central, we felt like we played really well and improved both games,” North coach Paul Ferguson said. “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get the win in those games, but playing that level of competition will help us get ready for this weekend.”
That’s also the case with East, which fell at Bedford North Lawrence and at home against Class 3A No. 4 Silver Creek last weekend.
“We want to keep improving,” East coach Brent Chitty said. “Three games in a week, we learned a lot about ourselves.”
Junior Alex King, who is coming off a 31-point outburst at Franklin Central, leads the Bull Dogs with 19.6 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 3.2 steals. Junior point guard Nathan VanDeventer adds 12.4 points.
Senior Zach Sanders leads the Olympians with 14.3 points. Senior point guard Parker Chitty, an Eastern Kentucky signee, adds 13.3 points.
“Columbus East is a senior-heavy team,” Ferguson said. “Parker Chitty is an outstanding point guard. They’re a team that plays really hard, and I know this is a very meaningful game for them. They’re also coming off two tough losses last weekend, so both teams are going to be really hungry for a win going into this game.”
North beat East 65-51 last year and has won four of the past five in the series. The Olympians’ win during that span was a 43-39 upset of an unbeaten Bull Dogs squad two years ago.
“They were ranked third in the state, and nobody gave our team a chance,” Brent Chitty said. “You can throw rankings out. You can throw records out when these two teams meet.”
Colts to honor East senior
Columbus East senior defensive back Nick Andrie is one of 25 football players from around the state to be selected as a 2015 Indiana High School Academic All-Star.
Andrie and the other selections will be honored during an awards presentation at 8:30 a.m. Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. The players will then be recognized prior to the Indianapolis Colts’ 1 p.m. game against the Houston Texans.
Trio in All-Star Game
Three Columbus Icemen players are slated to play in the Indiana High School Hockey Association All-Star Game Saturday at The Forum in Fishers.
Goalie Luke Fry, defenseman Cameron Nelson and forward Jalan Armstrong will represent the Icemen in the All-Star scrimmage at 7:30 p.m. There will be a player draft at 5 p.m., and selected players from each team will take part in a skills competition at 6 p.m.
East tickets on sale
Tickets for upcoming Columbus East basketball games, including the contests against Columbus North, are on sale from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. today and Friday in the East athletics office.
Tickets for today’s girls game at North and Friday’s boys game against North at East are $5. Tickets for East’s Dec. 22 boys game against Lawrence Central in the Marion Classic are $5 in advance and $15 at the door. Tickets for the Olympians’ boys game against Shelbyville at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Jan. 9 are $8 for students and $12 for adults.
Also, the East boys and girls swimmers will be selling Crew Carwash tickets before Friday’s boys game against Columbus North for $8 as a fundraiser for the swim teams.