NOBLESVILLE — Columbus East’s boys’ basketball team had played fewer games than any of the other competitors at the Noblesville Holiday Tournament entering play Tuesday, so the Olympians could be forgiven if they’re still working out the kinks from the school’s extended football state tournament run.
That said, East didn’t appear to be suffering from any such problem in either of its two games Tuesday at the tournament. The Olympians lost their opener to Crown Point 72-61 but stayed competitive against the Bulldogs, now 7-0 and ranked eighth in the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association poll.
In the nightcap, the Olympians defeated a Chesterton team (71-62) that entered the day 7-1. The Trojans lost to the host Millers 64-57 in overtime earlier in the day and are currently 7-3.
“Crown Point’s a really good team, and they hit some really big shots against us,” East coach Brent Chitty said. “We played with a lot of energy in both games. I sense us getting better. We played more relaxed (against Chesterton) and got some stops.”
Trailing 21-15 at the end of the first quarter, East began the second period with a 17-3 run, and never trailed again, although Chesterton rallied to tie the game 56-all with 4:44 to play. The Olympians responded by scoring the game’s next seven points, and the Trojans never drew closer than six after that.
Their second-quarter run included consecutive baskets by Drew Johnson, a 3-pointer and a driving layup off a turnover. Matthew Frost added 11 points off the bench for East, and he was one of four double-figure scorers.
“We got a lot of layups because we were playing great defense,” Chitty said. “This is a time for us to get better. We’re playing against some really good teams.”
In a relatively evenly matched field, Crown Point might have entered as the tourney favorite. The Bulldogs shot 61.9 percent from the floor (26 of 42), which offset East’s 19-of-39 shooting effort (48.7 percent).
Jonathan Foster led East with 20 points against Crown Point, while Chaz Painter added 11 and Frost added 10.
Max Nolting’s 17 points led the Olympians in the Chesterton win. Painter added 16 and a team-high eight rebounds, while Tanner McFall and Frost added 11 apiece.
East will play Bloomington South in the fifth-place game today at 4 p.m. The Panthers defeated Columbus North 51-44 in their second game Tuesday after losing to Pike 51-47 in their opener.