NOBLESVILLE — In the fifth-place game of the Noblesville boys basketball tournament, it looked like Bloomington South was going to cruise to a victory after building a double digit lead in the first three quarters.
Columbus East, however, started a big fourth-quarter rally.
Matthew Frost scored 14 of his team high 19 points for the Olympians in the fourth quarter to help bring them to within one point, but the Panthers went 10 of 10 from the free-throw line. East’s 3-point attempt at the buzzer was short, and sent the Olympians home with a crushing 57-54 loss.
“We gave (Frost) that opportunity because he started getting hot,” East coach Brent Chitty said. “He is just a special player and we are going to keep bringing him along.”
Chitty also said he was pleased with the fight his team showed in the fourth quarter, continuing to battle for the lead.
“I like that they just never quit,” Chitty said. “They’re learning and their attitude is just off the charts.”
Bloomington South (8-3) got most of its contributions in the first half from Josh Hall and Chance Coyle, who put up 28 of the Panthers 32 first half points. The Panthers went on a 10-2 run to go ahead 32-18 late in the second quarter, but Jonathan Foster and Max Nolting both hit 3-pointers to give the Olympians (3-5) momentum in the second half and only trailed 32-24.
The Panthers got a basket to start the fourth quarter to lead 45-32. Frost scored 10 of the next 12 points for the Olympians to cut the score to 51-44. After a Bloomington South basket, East scored the next eight points to cut the deficit to one point at 53-52. The Panthers hit two free throws, then Thomas Myers got a bucket. Bloomington South capped it with two more free throws.
Foster finished with 10 points and Myers added nine.
“I thought everyone stepped up huge,” Chitty said. “I like kids who play hard and have great attitudes and I appreciate that. I thought we competed well against Crown Point and Chesterton last night. We played well against Bloomington South and we are just going to keep getting better.”
The two teams will face off again Jan.13 at Bloomington South and possibly again in the sectional.
“It’s more about what is working well for us and what teams are doing in assumption of making adjustments,” Chitty said. “The caliber teams we played against the last two days is going to help us make good adjustments and just keep trying to get better.”