Columbus East coach Brent Chitty was so pleased with Friday night’s victory against Columbus North that he sent his entire team to talk to the media after the game.
That’s how much Chitty felt this was a “team” win for the Olympians.
While one player — Jaylen Flemmons — scored 22 of the Bull Dogs’ 37 points, and no one else had more than six, the Olympians had a little more balance. Led by Thomas Myers’ career-high 17, East used contributions from several players in pulling off a minor upset.
“We all played great as a team, and Thomas had a heck of a game,” said senior Drew Hasson, who scored six points and led the Olympians with eight rebounds. “We passed well, we rebounded well and we didn’t give them many second-chance opportunities.”
Myers and Hasson were two of East’s heroes Friday, but the Olympians had plenty. The third senior starter, Max Nolting got them going with back-to-back 3-pointers to start the game and another 3 late in the first quarter to give East its biggest lead at 17-9.
Junior Matt Frost came up big with eight points and seven rebounds. He battled on the boards all night with Flemmons and the rest of the North players.
Another junior, Drew Johnson, scored only four points, but they may have been four of the biggest points of the game. His steal and layup with 3:44 remaining turned away the Bull Dogs chance to take their first lead of the game and put the Olympians up 34-33.
Johnson added two free throws in the final minute, the first of which made it a two-possession game with 52 seconds left. The second extended the lead to five with 17 seconds remaining.
Then, there were the four senior subs. Luke Poindexter, Dane Denniston, Wyatt Koopman and Carson Whitehead didn’t score, but played valuable minutes and contributed on the defensive end where East held North 21 points below its season average.
“Everybody played their roles,” Nolting said. “Everybody played defense, and they were confident. When they had to take a shot, they knew they had to knock it down, and they did. We’ve been waiting for this game for a long time, and I thought everybody did their part.”
The win was the first against the Bull Dogs for these Olympians as varsity players. East beat North at home two years ago, but most of these guys were on the JV.
The Bull Dogs avenged the loss to the Olympians in the sectional two years ago and knocked off East last year at North.
“I’ve only beat them one time since I’ve been here, so it’s good to beat them in our home gym,” Myers said.
“It’s a great feeling,” Hasson said. “It’s our senior year, and this is one you always want to get.”