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Balance key for 2-0 East: Gutsy play propels Olympians to win

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INDIANAPOLIS — The Columbus East boys turned in another gutsy performance Tuesday at Heritage Christian, surviving a 15-point meltdown to pull out a 64-62 victory.

Coming off a season-opening double-overtime win Friday, the Olympians combined gritty teamwork and solid free-throw shooting down the stretch to hold off an Eagles team flying on the hot shooting of Anthony Warrum, who paced all scorers with 38 points.

Ridge Harris had 20 points for East, and Bryce Lienhoop added 17, but it was the other six players’ scoring effort that contributed just as much.

“I truly believe we’ve got 10 players that can lead this team any night out,” East coach Brent Chitty said. “We’ve played two tough games, so these guys are getting tested early.”

The Olympians (2-0) went into halftime leading 28-18 and expanded the lead to 39-24 with 4:10 remaining in the third frame before Warrum and company turned up the heat.

After tossing in just six first-half points, the 6-foot-1 senior guard pumped in eight points, including a pair of 3-pointers to help his squad outscore East 15-5 to close out the period. He then drilled another 3 and followed that with a steal and layup to knot the game at 44.

“They got hot, and we didn’t do some things on defense,” Chitty said. “We just knew we had to make good plays from that point.”

Instead of wilting from losing the lead, the Olympians got key points from Harris, including a driving layup and free throw to put his team back in control at 51-48.

Sophomore Conner Umphress then stepped up to plate and knocked down an inside basket, followed by a bomb to keep the momentum on the O’s side. His pass to Zach Martindale led to another layup to push the lead to 59-55, and the Eagles failed to catch back up despite another seven points from Warrum in the final minute.

East connected on 11 of 15 free throws, including nine of 11 in the fourth quarter, to stay in front. The O’s also out-rebounded the Eagles, with Lienhoop grabbing 10 and Harris snatching seven.

“In both of our games, it’s been free-throw shooting that has carried us,” Chitty said. “The guys are really stepping up and doing a nice job.”

The Olympians also drained five 3-pointers, including a trio by Harris, in attempt to match the Eagles, who buried eight, including four by Warrum and three by Seth Somers.

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