In a battle of a team with terrific offensive balance and a team with two offensive stars, it was the balanced team that prevailed Saturday afternoon at Columbus North.
The Bull Dogs’ balanced offensive effort was plenty to offset the Herculean effort put forth by East Central’s Tyler Koeling from outside and Luke Collinsworth from in the paint to walk away with a 66-54 victory. Koeling and Collinsworth combined for 48 of their team’s points, with Collinsworth, who is just a freshman, leading the way for the Trojans with 27 points.
On the other side, North had four players score in double figures, with Jalen Flemmons being the way with 14. Trey Vincent, Bailey Hester and Patrick McKinley all netted 10.
The big man for the Trojans even impressed North coach Paul Ferguson.
“Collinsworth is a handful. He has great hands and uses great angles in the paint on his shots. He’s a really good young player.”
After a very slow start that saw the Bull Dogs (11-7) fall behind 7-0 after just three minutes of play, back to back 3s by Blake Barker and Lakeevan Whedon helped them get back into the game.
Two field goals by Collinsworth and a 3 by Koeling allowed the Trojans (12-7) to up the lead back to five points, but a thunderous alley-oop dunk by North’s McKinley off of a perfect feed from Whedon brought North to within 12-10 to end the first quarter.
Ferguson thought that play was a key to giving his team some momentum heading into the second quarter.
“I thought that alley-oop at the end of the quarter to Patrick was what really got us going,” he said. “That woke us up a little bit.”
The Bull Dogs were able to maintain their momentum into the second quarter, going on a quick five-point run. After a Hester 3 gave North its first lead of the game at 13-12, a steal and layup by McKinley increased the lead to 15-12.
The Bull Dogs also switched up their press, which gave the East Central fits, making it difficult for the Trojans to get into the flow of their offense.
“Part of our scouting report was to switch up our defense,” Ferguson said. “We wanted to give them different looks and really pressure their guards because we thought they might struggle with that. I thought it was effective.”
When East Central was able to run its offense, it went through Collinsworth. But following two Collinsworth field goals, North increased its lead to five when Matt Boldrey nailed a 3 from the corner, but once again, the Trojans answered, with Collinsworth and Koelling able to keep thm close throughout the quarter.
Another bucket from Collinsworth and five points from Koelling put the Trojans back on top 23-21, but North scored the final four points of the half when Flemmons scored off an offensive rebound and McKinley hit a layin just as the half ended to give the Bull Dogs a two-point lead heading into the locker room.
North exploded out of the locker room in the third quarter, going on a 19-9 run in the first four minutes, taking a 12 point lead punctuated by a steal and basket from Flemmons. The Bull Dogs continued to score throughout the period with 27 points in all.
They took their largest lead of the game at 50-34 on another Flemmons basket with 1:15 remaining, and headed to the final period with a 14-point lead. Six North players scored in the quarter, when they continued to share the ball effectively.
East Central was able to get no closer than 10 points the rest of the way.
“We had 17 assists on 24 made field goals, and anytime you’re above 50 percent, that is great,” Ferguson said.