Because the Columbus North boys basketball team was off Friday night, the Bull Dogs had a full week to think about their most recent game prior to Saturday’s battle with Perry Meridian.
That previous outing, a 28-point setback at Noblesville, didn’t sit well with North. So the Bull Dogs came out and made amends with a 47-39 Conference Indiana win against the Falcons.
“This is a big win for us,” North coach Paul Ferguson said. “Our team showed a lot of maturity, bouncing back after a rough game against Noblesville. We had a good week of practice preparing for this.”
Junior point guard Nathan VanDeventer, who led the Bull Dogs (4-9, 2-2) with 21 points Saturday, said the difference between the Noblesville and Perry Meridian games was mental.
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“We came out with a lot more energy than we did (at Noblesville),” VanDeventer said. “We just didn’t really show up, so getting mentally ready for practice each day helped us, and coach stressed that when we came back on Monday. We saw it on the film, and we talked about it and we made some changes tonight, and it showed.”
Most of those changes came on the defensive end. North held Perry (7-9, 0-4) to 33 percent (14 of 42) shooting from the field.
“I thought we played great defense from the beginning of the game until the end,” Ferguson said. “We had great energy and intensity defensively. We had a goal of just playing great defense tonight. It was really simple, and we did that and that’s what won us the basketball game.”
The game was tied five times, but the Bull Dogs never trailed. The final tie came at 22-22 with 6:10 left in the third quarter. From there, North went on an 11-3 run to take a 33-25 lead.
The Bull Dogs took their biggest lead at 37-27 on a VanDeventer basket a minute into the fourth quarter. But the Falcons clawed their way back to within 41-39 on a 3-pointer by Gabe Patterson with 1:30 remaining.
That would be the final points for Perry. VanDeventer hit two free throws to stretch the lead to four then scored on a breakaway layup with 24 seconds left after a miss at the other end. Alex King added a pair of free throws with nine seconds remaining for the final margin.
“I don’t think we were really worried, VanDeventer said. “They hit some big shots there. In that stretch of time, our shots weren’t falling, and their shots were falling. But we continued attacking the basket and we had some bounces bounce our way.”
VanDeventer finished 8 of 11 from the field, including 3 of 5 from 3-point range.
“Our shots were falling tonight,” VanDeventer said. “Our bigs worked really well in the middle, and we got open shots because when you attack the zone, they collapse on the middle. We had some wide-open shots on the outside, and then when they run out at you, our bigs were wide open down low.”
VanDeventer and King each grabbed six rebounds to lead North to a 30-20 advantage on the boards.
“It’s big for a young team to learn how to win close games,” Ferguson said. “I love seeing our team being in a tight game down the stretch and winning it.”