If the Columbus East boys basketball team happens to face Bloomington South in a sectional game later this season, it’s unlikely the Olympians will be trying to replicate much, if any, of Friday night’s game.
East battled its way back from a slow first-half start, but it could not do the same in the second half and the Panthers pulled away for a 55-38 victory at the Orange Pit.
“We just didn’t play very good basketball tonight,” senior guard Parker Chitty said.
Bloomington South (10-4) took advantage of five first-quarter turnovers by the Olympians, building an early 11-2 lead. East clawed its way back to within two by halftime, but when the Panthers opened the third quarter with a 12-2 run to make it 37-25, the host team had no answer.
After a Chitty jumper briefly made it a nine-point game in the opening minute of the fourth period, Bloomington South led by double digits the rest of the way.
East coach Brent Chitty wasn’t particularly pleased with his team’s play at either end of the floor. Offensively, the Olympians (5-6) turned the ball over 16 times, including six during the third quarter, when the Panthers took control of the contest.
“Number one, we don’t have a lot of patience on offense, and that hurts us,” the coach stated. “Number two, that’s probably because Parker was very impatient tonight. When he’s patient, we’re a lot better.”
Defensively, East was unable to slow down a quicker Bloomington South lineup after halftime. The Panthers repeatedly broke the Olympians down to set up easy baskets in the final two quarters.
The pivotal stretch came early in the third when, after a Kevin Williams jumper got East within two at 27-25, Phillip King hit a 3-pointer to start a run of 10 unanswered points. After a Hunter Loyd bucket midway through the quarter capped the Bloomington run, the Olympians never got closer than nine again.
“I think our kids did work hard,” Brent Chitty said. “I think mentally we didn’t shoot the ball well — none of us — and when you don’t do that, you get frustrated.”
Parker Chitty, who was the lone Olympian in double figures with 10 points, agreed that East let a cold start affect its mood the rest of the evening.
“We’ve got to be mentally tougher than we were tonight,” he said. “We can’t let the officiating or the shots not falling bother us. That’s probably my fault.”
Bloomington South had four players score in double digits, led by Josh Hall’s 14 points. Tucker Blackwell added 13 points and spent most of the night harassing Parker Chitty at the other end.
When the East point guard was able to get past Blackwell, the Panthers almost always had other defenders there ready to help out.
“I thought Parker had a really, really tough night,” Brent Chitty added. “He’s our leader and he kind of sets the table, and I just think he had a tough night. And it’s going to happen.”
Tough nights happen to every player and every team at some point. The Olympians are just hopeful that if they end up getting a postseason rematch with Bloomington South, it doesn’t happen again.