By Rob Deweese
For The Republic
Bloomington South brought an impressive resume to the Orange Pit on Tuesday night, and they Panthers only enhanced it with a convincing 61-45 victory against Columbus East.
Not only did Class 4A No. 8 Bloomington South bring Hall of Fame coach J.R. Holmes, the Panthers brought their long distance game as well. They hit their first five 3-point shots and finished 10 of 14 from behind the arc.
Coming in, Bloomington South had lost only two games this season — once to Class 4A No. 2 New Albany and once to Class 3A No. 1 and undefeated New Castle.
After going scoreless for the first 3:17 to begin the game, both teams warmed up, specifically from long range. The first five field goals in the game came from behind the arc.
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The Panthers hit three of those, taking a quick 9-6 advantage. Another 3 from Bloomington South’s Anthony Leal extended the lead to 17-10 before the Olympians’ Max Nolting hit a floater in the lane to close out the scoring in the first quarter with the visitors leading 17-12.
A quick free throw and a Chance Coyle layin upped the Panther lead to 20-12 to begin the second quarter. After an East field goal made the score 22-14, Bloomington South went on a quick 12-5 spurt to take a 34-19 lead into the locker room.
The Panthers were a two-man wrecking crew in the first half. Coyle had 14 points, and Leal had 12 before the break.
The Olympians held strong after halftime, cutting the lead to 11 at one point. Drew Hasson led the East charge in the third quarter, scoring six points in the paint on the way to a team-high 10-point game.
“Drew didn’t play against Batesville due to an injury, but I’ve noticed in practice that he is playing better,” East coach Brent Chitty said. “The thing I love about Drew is that he is a very coachable kid. He is a load inside.”
The Olympians (5-5)) continued to play hard in the fourth quarter, despite trailing by double digits the whole way. A Nolting floater cut the Panther lead to 15 to begin the third quarter, but that is as close as East would get the rest of the way.
With 2 minutes left in the game, a Will Stockman layup gave Bloomington South (12-2) its largest lead of the night at 59-40 to put the game well out of reach.
“I was happy with our shot selection,” Chitty said. “We just have to have more confidence when we shoot that it’s going to go in.”
As far as East’s effort, Chitty was more direct.
“Coming out of our break, I thought that we were not competing that well in practice or games,” he said. “In the second half, I thought we competed better. The bottom line is, no matter the score, you have to compete.”
Coyle led the Panthers with a game-high 18 points; however, only four came after the break. Leal chipped in 14.
Helping out Hasson for the Olympians in the scoring column was Matt Frost, who scored nine.