Southport may have lost its two All-State players from last season, but that didn’t mean Columbus North wasn’t anxious to atone for its most lopsided defeat of the year.
The Bull Dogs jumped out to an early 12-0 lead, then weathered a charge from the Cardinals before pulling away in the second half for a 51-31 Conference Indiana win Friday night.
“It’s hard to forget one of those games just because of how bad they beat you,” North senior point guard Nathan VanDeventer said. “So we were extremely hungry to come out and stomp on them at first. We had a great week of practice, and our coaches did a good job with the scouting report.”
Even though the Bull Dogs (9-6, 2-3) are primarly a man-to-man defensive team, they played zone most of the way because they thought Southport (2-11, 1-4) was very impatient on offense. The Cardinals proved that theory by shooting only 12 of 45 from the field, including 3 of 21 from 3-point range.
North’s win avenged a 75-34 loss at Southport last season. That Cardinals team was led by Paul Scruggs, who is now at a prep school, and Joey Brunk, who is at Butler.
“We wanted to get back at them from last year,” senior guard Zach Green said. “We knew they lost a couple of players, but we knew it was still going to be a tough game. We eliminated our turnovers.”
A pair of early 3-pointers by VanDeventer keyed the Bull Dogs’ 12-0 start. Southport answered with nine in a row and got to within 16-14 with 1:06 left in the first half.
A basket by Jaylen Flemmons pushed the lead to four. Then, with the Cardinals playing for the last shot, Flemmons came up with a steal and fed Stephon Peters-Smith, who was fouled with six-tenths of a second left. Peters-Smith made both free throws, and North went to halftime with a 20-14 advantage.
“To go in the locker room up six instead of up two, I thought that was a big momentum play in the game,” North coach Paul Ferguson said. “Our guys executed the trap perfectly, and we just played a smart game of basketball all night. That play was an example of how we played smart and were opportunistic at times.”
Southport opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer to cut the lead in half, but a 3 by Alex King and a free throw and 3-pointer by Green pushed it back to 27-17. The lead was 36-26 with just less than 5 minutes left in the game before a 10-0 Bull Dogs run put it away.
King finished with game-highs of 22 points and 12 rebounds, while Green added 11 points and 10 rebounds for North, which was playing at home for the first time in more than a month. VanDeventer added 10 points.
“We prepared for their pressure all week in practice,” King said. “I thought we came into this game well prepared, and we showed it.”