Dueling on the hardwood

Friday night’s Columbus North-Columbus East boys basketball game had the feel of a pitchers’ duel in baseball.

It was kind of like one of those baseball games that is scoreless going into the seventh inning. The casual fan who happens upon the game doesn’t think they’ve missed anything, but anyone who has been at the game from the start realizes all the nuances that have gone into it.

So when Friday’s game was 17-11 North at halftime and 30-18 Bull Dogs after three quarters, it wasn’t a case of a lack of action. It was suffocating defense from both sides.

North’s 41-35 win certainly wasn’t the prettiest victory it will have this season, but it’s one the Bull Dogs will take, especially with a strong Terre Haute South team coming to Memorial Gym tonight for a Conference Indiana battle.

Just how tough was the defense in Friday’s game? Consider:

  • North forced five turnovers on East’s first seven possessions and 15 for the game.
  • The Olympians held the Bull Dogs to three points in the second quarter.
  • East shot only 27.5 percent (11 of 40) from the field, including just 18.2 percent (2 of 11) from 3-point range.
  • North held the Olympians top player, Tanner McFall, who played only 15 1/2 minutes because of foul trouble, to three points.

Fans who didn’t get enough of the East-North rivalry Friday night may have as many as two more chances to see the teams battle again this season. As always, they’re in the same sectional and could face each other in March at Bloomington North.

But there’s an outside chance the Olympians and Bull Dogs could meet again in only 10 days. If things fall right, they could meet in the placement round game of the Noblesville Tournament on Dec. 28.

North and East are on opposite sides of the bracket at Noblesville, so chances of them meeting in the eight-team event are roughly 1 in 4. The Bull Dogs open with Fishers at 10 a.m. Dec. 27, and the Olympians play Crown Point at 4 p.m. that day. If North loses, it would play again at 6 p.m. that day, and if East loses, it would play at 8 p.m. on Dec. 27. First-round winners will play two games on Dec. 28. Teams who play twice on Dec. 27 would play only once on Dec. 28.

So East vs. North Round 1 goes to the Bull Dogs. We can only hope for a Rounds 2 and 3.