MOORESVILLE — Columbus North traveled to Mooresville on Friday in search of its first road win against the Pioneers since 2010 and got it, thanks to forcing 17 turnovers.
The Bull Dogs relied on their defense to get the 43-39 victory. Zach Green carried the team on the defensive side by holding one of Mooresville’s top players, Sam Norton, two points under his season average.
“Zach did a tremendous job on Norton,” North coach Paul Ferguson said. “He just won a lot of 50-50 balls for us, and a big offensive rebound. He made a couple of plays for us down the stretch. He just played an all-around great game.”
Green added nine points to go along with his hard-nosed defense. The Bull Dogs (7-6) limited the Pioneers (3-9) to just three scorers for the entire game.
Brayton Strohmeyer, Jon Eineman and Norton accounted for all of Mooresville’s 39 points.
North needed a big defensive performance. It could not take advantage of early layup opportunities and started the game with just six first-quarter points.
The Bull Dogs shot 31 percent in the first half, and that allowed the Pioneers to hang around. But an 8-0 North run to start the second allowed it to go into halftime with a four-point lead.
“This season, that’s happened to us a lot,” Green said. “We haven’t started out good, but in the second half we knew the shots were going to fall more, the layups were going to fall, and that’s what happened.”
It was close for most of the game, with the largest lead coming in the beginning of the third quarter when the Bull Dogs took a 24-18 advantage. Mooresville pulled close enough to be right in the game in the final seconds.
The Pioneers were down 41-39 with 15 seconds left and one last shot to tie or win the game. North’s in-your-face defense proved to be a little too much for Mooresville.
The Pioneers could not find a shot and were forced to throw up a 3-pointer that hit the backboard and landed in Alex King’s hands. King was fouled and sealed the game by hitting two free throws with less than a second left.
King led the Bull Dogs with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Trey Vincent matched Green with nine points.
Starting point guard Nathan VanDeventer played only about 6 minutes because of a minor injury.
“This is a tough gym to play in,” Ferguson said. “I’m happy that we are able to grind out a win, and there is a lot we can learn from this game.”