Bull Dogs notch 7th-straight win

ST. LEON — The Columbus North boys basketball team led East Central wire-to-wire Saturday afternoon, but the lead wasn’t big enough to put the game away early.

The Trojans were forced to foul late in the game and once the Bull Dogs were in the bonus, they sealed the game from the free-throw line to go home with a 47-35 victory.

North (12-6) is now on a seven-game winning streak.

“It’s been very uplifting, and the morale has been very good,” said North senior Alex King, who finished with 17 points, five rebounds and four assists. “We have to be confident, but not overconfident, walking into a game thinking we’re the best team in there. In reality, we have to go out there and play 100 percent and give 100 percent every time.”

With the Bull Dogs clinging to a 39-33 lead, Nathan VanDeventer stepped up for the one-and-one. He converted the first, but missed the second attempt. King got the rebound off the miss, but his putback was off the mark and Stephon Peters-Smith grabbed the board and scored on the putback.

VanDeventer was at the line again for a one-and-one, and he and sank both free throws for a 44-33 lead. King put the game away with two more free throws, and Trey Vincent added one.

“Coaches and players all have confidence in me, and I have confidence in them stepping up and hitting free throws,” VanDeventer said. “It’s not necessarily me that did it, but the whole team did.”

North led 23-20 at the half, but its final bucket of the half came with around one minute left when King was on a breakaway in transition. It looked like was going to lay it in, but instead lobbed a perfect alley-oop to Peters-Smith, who finished with a statement dunk.

“I saw him on the break, and I know with his athleticism, he can go up and get that,” King said. “I just had to have the confidence to throw it up.”

King and VanDeventer hit consecutive 3s to extend the lead to 29-22. The Bull Dogs led 32-27 going into the fourth quarter.

“I thought our guys stepped up and made some plays, knocked down some shots, and did what we needed to do to win,” North coach Paul Ferguson said.

VanDeventer finished with nine points. Peters-Smith added five points and six rebounds.