MARION — A rough 1-7 start has taught the Columbus North boys basketball teams numerous different lessons.
Tuesday morning’s lesson was that it’s difficult to give away an entire half and come away with a win.
The Bull Dogs fell into an early 17-point hole, and while they showed signs of life with a strong third quarter, the lackluster start was too much to overcome in a 69-57 setback against West Lafayette Harrison at the Marion Classic.
“Unfortunately, we made a lot of bad decisions in the first half,” North coach Paul Ferguson said. “We struggled with their defensive pressure and got ourselves in a hole, and just didn’t play with the effort that we needed to to win a ball game in the first half. We were flat.”
Harrison (4-4) took advantage of numerous Bull Dogs miscues, using them to fuel an extended 19-2 run that made it 23-8 with 5:21 left in the second quarter. Columbus North had 14 first-half turnovers, including five traveling violations.
“The turnovers killed us,” said Jaylen Flemmons, who finished with 18 points for North. “We were giving up wide-open layups.”
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Benito Munoz late in the second quarter gave the Raiders a 32-15 cushion, but the Bull Dogs clawed back, cutting the deficit to 11 points by halftime and opening the third quarter with a 12-4 burst to make it 38-35.
“We found a group of guys who wanted to play hard,” Ferguson explained.
That, however, was as tight as it got. Harrison responded with a 9-3 run, and the Bull Dogs, almost out of gas, got no closer than six the rest of the way.
Nathan VanDeventer tied for team-high honors with 18 points, 15 of those coming after halftime. VanDeventer was 10 of 12 from the foul line; his teammates were a combined 4 of 10.
Those missed opportunities at the foul line, coupled with 22 total turnovers, were too much for North to overcome.
Ferguson made it clear that even though he’s got a young team that just played its sixth consecutive game away from home, he expects more than what he got Tuesday — especially in terms of effort.
“We need to learn to play hard for the entire game,” he stated. “It’s pretty simple; that’s what it comes down to. And when we learn to do that, there’s potential in this room to be a good team, but until we learn to play with that level of effort and intensity, unfortunately, we’re not going to be competitive.”