North rally comes up just short

For the final 25 1/2 minutes of Friday night’s boys basketball contest, Columbus North played solid defense against a high-scoring Mooresville team.

Unfortunately for the Bull Dogs, they gave up 19 points in the first 6 1/2 minutes. Sixteen of those came from point guard KC Earls, who finished with 20 points to lead the Pioneers to a 50-47 win.

“KC Earls is a great player,” said Nathan VanDeventer, who scored a career-high 27 to lead North. “When a guy like that gets confidence like that, it’s hard for him to miss. He just got his team rolling there at the beginning.”

VanDeventer scored 11 of the Bull Dogs’ 16 points in the first quarter, but Earls did even more damage with 16 of Mooresville’s 19.

“Defensively, we played a great game, except the first seven minutes of the game when we gave Earls (16) points,” North coach Paul Ferguson said. “Unfortunately, it was just not executing the scouting report at the beginning of the game. Then, Trey (Vincent) locked him down and did a nice job on him.”

The Pioneers (8-4) led 32-24 late in the first half when VanDeventer scored nine points in a 10-1 run that gave the Bull Dogs (3-8) a 34-33 lead with 4:45 left in the third quarter. Mooresville then went on a 15-4 run during the next eight minutes to take its biggest lead at 48-38.

But North wasn’t done. The Bull Dogs battled back to within 48-45 on a three-point play by Alex King with 1:10 remaining. After a pair of Pioneers free throws, North had a chance to cut it to two, but a Mitchell Kelley 3-pointer went in and out.

Mooresville’s Luke Kenney missed the front end of a one-and-one and King hit a pair of foul shots at the other end with 13 seconds to go. After Kenney missed another front end with nine seconds left, the Bull Dogs called timeout to set up a potential game-tying shot.

VanDeventer had a good look from 22 feet, but the ball bounced off the rim, and North couldn’t get off another shot before the buzzer.

“Tonight, we played well,” VanDeventer said. “We just didn’t shoot the ball well. We got beat by a very good team. They’re well-coached. Every player on that team is disciplined, and they played well tonight.”

King finished with 12 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Bull Dogs to a 30-25 advantage on the boards.

North, however, finished 3 of 16 from 3-point range.

“It’s hard to win on a night you shoot (19) percent from 3,” Ferguson said. “We just didn’t have enough firepower offensively tonight.”

The Pioneers started five seniors, while the Bull Dogs started five underclassmen.

“We don’t use that as an excuse anymore,” Ferguson said. “We’re a veteran enough team to play better in that game than we did. We just made a couple mistakes that were really costly defensively and even a few offensively that really cost us at key moments in the game.”

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.