ST. LEON — Teams often pay if they leave Columbus East senior Zach Sanders open.
East Central became another victim on the list.
With the score tied midway through the fourth quarter, Sanders buried back-to-back 3-point shots to put his team ahead for good in a 54-45 boys basketball victory Friday night.
Sanders credited his teammate, Tanner McFall, for creating the big spark the Olympians needed.
Near the end of the third quarter with Columbus East trailing 34-28, McFall beat his defender and delivered a sensational one-handed dunk.
While the dunk was not a game-winning shot, it kick-started an 8-1 run that put the Olympians ahead by three. East Central tied it at 40-40 before Sanders delivered his two big 3-pointers.
Sanders struggled from the field in the first half but turned it around. He was perfect from the floor in the second half.
“I just had to find my rhythm,” Sanders said. “I think after I made my first shot (in the second half), it got me going. When Tanner got that dunk, it gave the entire team a lot of energy, and it got me going to hit those two 3s.”
East (8-6) went to the paint early. Alex Galle was the beneficiary as he got nice assists from Kevin Williams and Parker Chitty to put the Olympians ahead 9-5. Galle finished with a team-high 14 points.
The Trojans came charging out of the gate in the second quarter, as they scored seven straight points to go ahead 20-13. The Olympians went nearly six minutes without a basket in the second quarter before Max Nolting ended the drought with a 3-point shot.
“The zone slowed us down a little bit, and we were not hitting shots early, and our energy level wasn’t very good,” East coach Brent Chitty said.
Nolting came up with another big 3-pointer early in the third quarter when it looked like the Trojans were gaining momentum.
The Olympians did not attempt a free throw the entire game until 37.9 seconds left in regulation, when the Trojans were forced to foul. By that time, it was too late for the hosts to come back.
Brent Chitty has stated during the season that his team needs balance in order to be effective. It got just what the doctor ordered, as four Olympians scored at least eight points in the contest.
“Zach had a great game and Max hit some big ones for us,” Brent Chitty said. “Tanner really was the one that got us all going in the third (quarter).
“We have to have a group effort if we want to keep being successful.”