Max Nolting started off hot for Columbus East in Friday’s showdown against Columbus North, but it was Thomas Myers who finished with the hot hand to close out the 44-37 win.
Nolting helped the Olympians make use of their home-court advantage by getting the crowd on their feet with back-to-back 3-pointers to start the game. All nine of his points came from his three 3-pointers in the first eight minutes.
“My teammates gave me the ball, and I just knew I had to knock down shots because it’s a big game,” Nolting said. “When you get the crowd into it, that’s always fun. It just lets everybody play even better.”
East (2-2) led 17-9 at the end of the first quarter, with Jaylen Flemmons scoring all nine of the Bull Dogs points. North (4-2) never led, but tied the score three times. The first tie came when North went on an 8-0 run to start the second quarter to even the score at 17-17.
The Olympians managed to keep a 22-19 halftime lead. Flemmons ended the half with 13 of the Bull Dogs’ 19 points. He finished with 22 points.
“I’ve played in a lot of these North-East games the last four years,” Flemmons said. “So I felt like I needed to come out and lead our team because many of these guys have not played in a big game like this before.”
The third quarter was a low scoring game for both teams with North scoring only six points and East four. The Bull Dogs were able to cut the lead to 26-25 to start the fourth quarter.
North tied the game for a second time at 28 with just under seven minutes remaining, but Myers’ 10-point fourth quarter held them off. Myers led the Olympians with 17.
“He was just clutch,” East coach Brent Chitty said. “He was just stepping up clutch at the end — big shots, big free-throws, big rebounds. That’s what seniors are supposed to do and he did it.”
Both teams traded buckets for a bit, and North had opportunities to take the lead, but a few costly turnovers kept the Olympians out in front.
“When you battle back to get to that point, you have to get over the hump to get the lead, and we just never quite got there,” North coach Paul Ferguson said. “I think we had a charge call on us and a couple travels in key moments there in the fourth. Just a lot of unforced turnovers that really hurt us down the stretch.”
The Bull Dogs had the ball with about a minute left trailing 39-35 when a turnover gave the ball back to East, and two free-throws by Myers pushed the lead to 41-35 with 34 seconds remaining. North scored again to cut the lead to four, but the Olympians closed it out with free throws.
“It’s going to be a war, and you know that,” Chitty said. “They’re not going to back down, and we’re not going to back down. That’s why you have this big crowd, and people come watch these kids play hard.”