INDIANAPOLIS — The Columbus East boys basketball team got off to a hot start in the first quarter, thanks to great shooting outside from the perimeter to give themselves a comfortable double-digit lead.
Even though it became a back-and-forth battle with Heritage Christian the final three quarters, the fast start was the difference, with the Olympians comfortably coasting to a 72-62 season opening victory.
The Eagles made things interesting late in the fourth quarter, but East went 14 for 14 on their free throws late in the game to seal the victory. Junior Max Nolting went 8 for 8 during the stretch.
“Coach (Brent Chitty) always tells us in practice that we got to hit our free throws,” said Nolting, who finished with a team-high 19 points. “We when hit them, we win.”
After Heritage Christian (2-2) hit a 3-pointer to open the game, the Olympians scored 13 straight points to build the double digit lead.
“I liked our defense in the first quarter,” Chitty said. “(Heritage Christian) had tough shots, and we did a god job on the boards.”
One big highlight in the game came early in the third quarter. Jonathan Foster connected on a no-look pass to Chaz Painter, who put the exclamation mark on the play with a dunk for a 37-24 lead.
Toward the end of the third quarter, East got back-to-back baskets from Foster and Nolting to extend the lead to 45-30.
The Eagles never gave up. The Olympians led 58-40 with about three minutes left, but Heritage Christian put together a couple of steals and a couple of 3-point baskets to cut the lead to 60-52. With the game within reach, the Eagles fouled to send East to the line, but the Olympians withstood the pressure and Eagles momentum to seal the game with the free throws.
“Our team did a good job of handling it and not falling apart,” Nolting said. “We stayed together and stayed focused.”
East got a lot of production across the board in the scoring department. Painter finished with 18 points, and Foster had 15 points. Matthew Frost added 10.
“For our first game, I was pleased,” Chitty said. “In the second half, we took some ill-advised shots but that is youth and inexperience. A tough game on the road opening up, but I was pleased, and I liked that our effort all four quarters was really solid.”