Bedford North Lawrence kept giving Columbus East chances to win or send the game into overtime Friday night, but the Olympians couldn’t capitalize.
As a result, the Stars held on for a 58-55 Hoosier Hills Conference victory, handing East its first loss of the season.
Bedford led 45-34 with 3:35 left in the game before the Olympians got back to within 50-47 with 1:05 remaining. The Stars pushed the lead back to 55-47 with 49 seconds left, but East’s Thomas Myers hit a 3-pointer and two free throws to make it 55-52 with 26 seconds left.
In the next 18 seconds, Bedford made only 1-of-6 free-throw attempts, but the Olympians made only 3 of 6. Finally, the Stars’ McCall Ray, who had missed four in a row, made a pair with 5 seconds remaining to give Bedford a 58-55 lead.
Following a timeout from each team, East got the ball to midcourt before turning it over with 2 seconds left, and Ray dribbled out the clock.
“We were playing some guys that it’s their second varsity start,” East coach Brent Chitty said. “I just told our kids ‘Have you ever been in this situation in a varsity game before?’ ‘No.’ ‘How about you?’ ‘No.’ the only way you learn it is to be in that situation.”
Thanks to a height advantage, the Olympians (1-1, 0-1) had their way with the Stars under the basket in the early going. But then Bedford (2-3, 1-0) began packing in its defense, forcing East to shoot from the outside.
The Olympians had trouble from the outside, making only one of their first 14 3-pointers before making their final three in the last 3 minutes of the game.
Tied 28-28 at halftime, East scored only four points in the third quarter and six in the forst 12 1/2 minutes of the second half.
“You just have to knock down shots,” Chitty said. “They hit some big shots, and we missed some big shots. Once we get a little more experience under our belt, we’ll knock them down.”
Tanner McFall led the Olympians with 13 points and eight rebounds. Jonathan Foster added 11 points.
The Stars’ Jathan Ritter hit four 3-pointers and led all scorers with 21 points, while fellow sophomore Ray added 13. Freshman Brayton Bailey, the son of Bedford and Indiana University legend and the state’s all-time leading scorer, Damon Bailey, added eight points and seven rebounds.