Trailing at the half against visiting Bloomington North, the Columbus East used a strong second half rally to come from behind and defeat the Cougars 58-53.
The Olympians controlled the pace of the game early on, jumping out to a 12-6 lead after the first quarter. The second quarter posed problems for East, with the aggressive press defense by Bloomington North leading to sloppy turnovers by the Olympians.
After turning the ball over just one time in the first period, the Cougars forced East to give the ball up seven times in the second. Leading 17-13 with just over 5 minutes to play in the first half, the Olympians went on a four-minute scoring drought, and Bloomington North closed the quarter on a 14-5 run to lead 27-22 at halftime.
“We handled it pretty easy in the first quarter and then they changed it up. Their energy was a lot different,” East assistant coach Sean Miller said about the pressure from the Cougars. “And we just didn’t respond to it right away. Our halftime talk was really centered around, ‘it wasn’t really what they were doing it was what we weren’t doing as well as we can do.’”
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Changing their press breaker heading into the second half, the Olympians were able to cut down on the turnovers and get themselves back into the game. Drew Hasson led the charge in the third quarter, scoring eight of his 17 points while controlling the paint.
“That’s his job for us, to be aggressive,” Miller said of Hasson’s big quarter. “For Hasson, we wanted to get him the ball in space. We changed the pace. We played the way we wanted to play and Hasson really took advantage of that.”
The Olympians looked like a new team in the fourth, using an 11-4 run in the first four minutes to take a commanding 46-41 lead. Down the stretch, East leaned on the decision-making and leadership of point guard Drew Johnson.
Johnson, who finished with 13 points, sank three clutch free throws in the final minute of the game to help seal the victory for the Olympians.
“I trust all of my guys,” Johnson said. “And every night I think that someone else can do the same thing I just did and that’s the great thing about our team.”