The Columbus East boys basketball team leaned heavily on two of its seniors, Tanner McFall and Chaz Painter, in the final two quarters against East Central on Friday night.
The Olympians led for the entire first half, but East Central fought back in the third. The Trojans came within one point with 2:10 left in the third after trailing by eight at halftime.
Painter helped maintain the lead by scoring the team’s first eight points of the third quarter before Thomas Myers and Mathew Frost hit back to back 3-pointers as the buzzer sounded to push the lead back to up to seven, and Tanner McFall sealed the 60-49 win with a 12-point fourth quarter.
“Everybody else was struggling (in the second half),” Painter said. “It was important for at least somebody to pick it up and it just so happened to be us. In our offense anybody can score at any time.”
McFall scored a team-high 17 points, while Painter finished with 13. Frost hit three 3-pointers and added 12 points for the Olympians (6-8).
Tyler Koelling led the Trojans’ third-quarter surge with 12 points in the period, but the Olympians shut the rest of the team down, outside of Brady Ewing, who had a game-high 25 points. Ewing and Koeling combined for 45 points and were the only East Central players who scored more than one basket. The Trojans (11-4) had only two other players score two points each for the entire game.
McFall and Painter were active on both sides of the ball, blocking two shots apiece, while Drew Hasson had a couple of key deflections to keep the momentum.
“Everybody played valuable minutes,” East coach Brent Chitty said. “Our shot selection was phenomenal in the fourth quarter, and defensively, I thought we did a lot better job.”
Thomas Myers finished with 10 points to help the Olympians win two consecutive games after going on a three-game losing streak.
McFall said beating a sectional opponent in East Central is exactly what the team needed to gain some momentum going into the tournament. The Olympians will play another sectional opponent today at Blooomington North in a game that would put East just one game under .500 for the regular season with a win.
“Bloomington North will be a great test for us,” Chitty said. “We have to rest and then get refocused in the morning.”