Columbus North opened Friday’s boys basketball game with a ton of energy against Class 4A No. 5-ranked Bloomington South, but a few costly turnovers in the third quarter helped give the Panthers enough momentum to pull out the win.
The Bull Dogs started with a six-point lead and controlled the game for much of the first half before three straight turnovers in the third quarter sparked a 10-0 run for Bloomington South that propelled it to a 46-44 Conference Indiana victory.
“The first half was all about executing our scouting report really well,” said Columbus North coach Paul Ferguson. “We hadn’t done that as well in the first half in our previous two games, and we told the guys tonight that we had to have that level of execution. We had to be locked in, and they were.”
The Bull Dogs (11-9, 3-3) had a one-point lead to end the first quarter and were up 23-20 by halftime. The Panthers (20-2, 6-0) took advantage of a few picked passes in the third quarter to help spark their 10-0 and end the period with a 33-27 advantage.
North turned it back around to start the fourth by going on a 9-0 run of its own to take a 38-35 lead.
“We had a little spurk there where we got out of what we were supposed to be doing,” Ferguson said. “We started dribbling too much. We weren’t strong with the ball, and we just had to pull them together and give them a reminder that in order to beat a team like Bloomington South, you have to minimize your turnovers and be strong with the basketball.”
The Bull Dogs continued to drive to the basket in the final eight minutes, which allowed it to convert on all 10 of their free throws. Trey Vincent, who ended with 13 points, hit some clutch free throws down the stretch, including two that tied the game at 44 with 19 seconds left. He shot 7 of 7 from the line, hitting six in the final period.
The Panthers hit a pair of free-throws seconds after Vincent tied the game to take another two-point lead with 14 seconds left. North had a final chance to either tie or win the game, but a contested layup by Jaylen Flemmons right before the buzzer sounded wouldn’t go down.
Flemmons led the Bull Dogs with 15 points and eight rebounds. Blake Barker grabbed seven boards to go with his six points.
“We had great execution tonight,” Ferguson said. “Our guys were locked in on the scouting report. We had a lot of contributions from different players off the bench. Overall, I was extremely pleased with our effort. I just wish we could have had back a couple of those turnovers in the fourth quarter, and we could have been in business there.”