BROOKVILLE — Columbus East played a little shorthanded in Friday night’s nonconference boys basketball game against Franklin County. Starting center Alex Galle was out with back spasms, and that left Rhett Myers and Chaz Painter to get additional minutes.
Both made the most of the opportunity and the rest of the team picked up the slack as well, helping the Olympians to beat the Wildcats 55-35.
“It was next man up, and that was what coach (Brent Chitty) has been preaching to us all season,” Painter said. “All week we were talking about getting tough and being able to finish when we had the opportunity.”
After a slow start to the first quarter, when the Olympians had a tough time getting the ball to fall through the net, a big second-quarter surge proved to be difference. With the defense creating turnovers that led to easy transition baskets, East went on an 18-2 run to lead, 22-6.
“We had to shoot smarter shots on offense because we shot a few bad outside shots,” East senior Kevin Williams said. “We had to sit down on defense and find a way to make it all work together.”
“We finally started executing our plays right,” Painter said. “Once we got the ball inside, we took care of business and did what we needed to do.”
The only time the Wildcats made the Olympians sweat a bit came in the third quarter, when the Wildcats found a way to break through the defense and earn several second-chance points to go on a 12-2 run that cut the Olympians’ lead to 33-25.
After Chitty called a quick timeout to settle his guys down, East responded in a big way and put the game away for good, going on a 13-3 run to make it 46-28.
Williams said the team was ready to take on the challenge.
“Basketball is a game of runs and we had to make them play defense,” he stated. “Once you get on a run, you want to keep on scoring to continue that run and also be smart on defense.”
“We had to tighten our defense a little bit and had to block out more,” Chitty said of the third-quarter lull. “We weren’t talking in that moment, but once we did, everything turned around for us.”
Another statistic that pleased Chitty was the fact the Olympians did not miss any of their seven free throw attempts on the evening.
With less than two minutes to play in regulation, Chitty decided to empty the bench. The coach was pleased with the overall effort.
“We communicated well and we found people on defense to block out and get the rebound,” Chitty said.