FISHERS — Columbus North’s boys basketball team hung with Class 4A No. 6 Hamilton Southeastern for most of the first half Thursday night, but the host Royals took control in the half’s last couple of minutes and never relinquished it.
Aaron Etherington’s 3-pointer just before the buzzer closed a 7-0 run to end the half that gave Hamilton Southeastern a 30-24 halftime edge. The Royals’ trapping defense, along with 7-foot-1 Mabor Majak, took over from there.
Majak scored 10 of his team-high 14 points in the third quarter, and the Royals outscored the Bull Dogs 22-9 in the period en route to a 64-54 victory.
The loss ended North’s five-game winning streak and dropped the Bull Dogs to 10-7 overall, while the Royals improved to 16-2 and extended its winning streak to five games.
North coach Paul Ferguson lamented the half-ending stretch, which seemed to carry over into the third quarter.
“We turned the ball over, then left (Etherington) open,” he said. “I was very pleased with the start. We executed the scouting report very well, but a couple of mistakes late, and we’re down six at the half.”
Hamilton Southeastern didn’t commit a turnover in the third quarter, and Majak connected on all five of his third-quarter field-goal tries. The Royals pieced together 7-0 and 6-0 runs early in the period, then put the game away with a 9-0 run that spanned the late third and early fourth quarters.
“We had a lot of trouble handling Mabor in the third quarter,” Ferguson said. “They are the biggest and most athletic team we’ll play this year, and from that standpoint, it was a great game for us to be in. When you make little mistakes like we did, you can get away with those against another team, but not against these guys. Come sectional time, this game will be beneficial.”
The Royals’ lead swelled to 58-35 with 6:08 remaining in the game, but North whittled away at the deficit, eventually forcing Hamilton Southeastern coach Brian Satterfield to put his starters back into the game after he had removed them when it appeared the Royals had the game easily won.
The Bull Dogs shot 51.2 percent from the floor (21 of 41), including 7 of 15 from 3-point range, but that wasn’t enough to offset the Royals’ 61-percent shooting (25 of 41). Majak led a balanced scoring effort, which included Chaz Birchfield and Noah Smith (12 points apiece) and Etherington (11 points).
Bailey Hester led North with 13 points, and his 11 first-half points kept the Bull Dogs competitive in the early going. They led 24-23 after a Patrick McKinney layup with 2:31 remaining in the half, before Hamilton Southeastern seized control.
Trenton Kelley added 12 points, while Blake Barker and McKinney each scored eight for North.