Columbus North put together a strong summer of basketball, going 16-6 during the June period when high school coaches can work with their players.
But the progress the Bull Dogs made might have hit a big snag Nov. 3.
That day, point guard and leading returning scorer Trey Vincent found out he might not be cleared to play by the beginning of the season because of a lingering injury. That night, projected starter Trenton Kelley suffered a ruptured spleen while quarterbacking the North football team in its sectional final at Center Grove.
Vincent, a 6-0 senior who averaged 5.6 points and led the 15-9 Bull Dogs with 3.5 rebounds and 1.2 steals a game, is awaiting word on whether he’ll be able to play in Tuesday’s season opener against Heritage Christian. Kelley, a 6-5 junior who averaged 4.5 points and 3.1 rebounds, could return in a few weeks.
“We’re pretty small,” North coach Paul Ferguson said. “That’s where losing Trenton was tough for this team because he’s about 6-5, and he was kind of our size. He was a big part of what we were doing, but you have to battle through some adversity. It’s going to give other guys a chance to learn some new roles and show what they can do.”
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One player the Bull Dogs will have on the floor Tuesday is Jaylen Flemmons. The 6-foot-2 senior averaged 5.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists after missing the first half of the season with an injury.
Bailey Hester, a 5-11 senior who averaged 1.4 points, is the only other returner with significant varsity experience. Matt Boldrey, a 6-0 senior, and 6-2 senior Ross Gill each played 14 minutes of varsity last season.
“Jaylen’s leadership is a big part of our team,” Ferguson said. “I think guys like Bailey Hester and Matt Boldrey and Ross Gill are veterans that have been around. They know what it takes to be a good team, and I think we have a dynamic young freshman in Blake Barker who’s going to have a big role for us this season.”
Barker, a 6-0 freshman, averaged 15.2 points last season as an eighth-grader in helping lead the Columbus Christian varsity to an National Association of Christian Athletes tournament title. If Vincent isn’t available, either Barker or 5-11 junior Lakeevan Whedon will fill the point guard role.
Providing depth will be 6-3 junior Patrick McKinley and 6-2 senior Drew Wilson.
“We played deep this summer,” Ferguson said. “That’s one of the things I’m glad we did this summer — to play deep into our rotation. We were regularly playing 10 guys, and I think that will hopefully help us to weather some injuries here to start the season. I’ve been very pleased with their work ethic and their attitude. There are just a lot of moving parts right now.”
The 2017-18 Columbus North boys basketball schedule:
Tuesday;Heritage Christian;7:30 p.m.
Dec. 1;at Shelbyville;7:30 p.m.
Dec. 2;at Martinsville;7:30 p.m.
Dec. 8;at Franklin Central;7:30 p.m.
Dec. 15;at Columbus East;7:30 p.m.
Dec. 16;at Terre Haute South;7;30 p.m.
Dec. 27;vs. Pike in Noblesville Tournament;4 p.m.
Dec. 28;at Noblesville Tournament;TBA
Jan. 5;Terre Haute North;8 p.m.
Jan. 6;Jennings County;7:30 p.m.
Jan. 12;Mooresville;7:30 p.m.
Jan. 20;Perry Meridian;1:30 p.m.
Jan. 26;at Southport;7:30 p.m.
Jan. 27;Whiteland;7:30 p.m.
Feb. 1;at Hamilton Southeastern;7:30 p.m.
Feb. 3;East Central;2:30 p.m.
Feb. 6;Franklin;7:30 p.m.
Feb. 9;Bloomington South;7:30 p.m.
Feb. 16;at Bloomington North;7:30 p.m.
Feb. 20;Seymour;7:30 p.m.
Feb. 22;Center Grove;7:30 p.m.