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Columbus North and Greensburg waited 10 years to meet on the court in a boys basketball game.
Their battle Saturday night might be talked about for another 10 years.
In a game that featured 10 lead changes, including four in the fourth quarter, the Pirates led last. The defending Class 3A state champions outscored the Bull Dogs 8-2 over the final 2½ minutes to pull out a 65-59 win in the championship game of the City Securities Hall of Fame Classic.
Class 4A No. 7 North (5-2), which routed 4A No. 14 Evansville Harrison 82-64 in the afternoon semifinals, used 6-foot-8 forward Josh Speidel for only seven minutes of the second half against Greensburg because of foul trouble. Speidel, who had been a force in the first game-and-a-half in the tourney, picked up his fourth foul in the closing seconds of the third quarter and didn’t return until less than three minutes remained.
At that point, the 3A No. 1 Pirates (9-0) held a 57-55 lead. Elliott Welmer, North’s other inside force, scored to tie the game with 2:40 remaining, but two free throws from tournament MVP Bryant McIntosh and a basket by Macy Holdsworth gave Greensburg a 61-57 lead with 1:52 left.
Speidel scored from inside with 1:42 remaining, and after McIntosh scored to push the lead back to 63-59, the Bull Dogs committed a turnover, and Speidel fouled out. Greensburg’s Collin Rigney then hit 2-of-4 free throws in the final 22 seconds to ice it.
“It was tough,” Welmer said of playing without Speidel for long stretches. “Without him, we’re not as good of a team. We played hard, but we came up short.”
“We had to substitute a little bit different than we would have liked,” North coach Jason Speer said. “You have an All-Tournament player, and you have to sit him down because of foul trouble, it is tough. But I thought our kids adjusted well. Christian Glass came in off the bench and gave us some energy and gave us some points.”
The Bull Dogs jumped out to a 22-14 lead after one quarter and led 24-16 early in the second. But Greensburg switched to a 2-3 zone and went on a 19-4 run to take control. The Pirates led 37-32 at halftime.
“They did a good job in the 2-3 zone,” Welmer said. “We had trouble getting the ball down low. It was frustrating.”
“I think that 2-3 zone got them standing a little bit,” Greensburg coach Stacy Meyer said. “They were killing us inside, and they were hurting us off the dribble. Also, we were fortunate that they missed some shots. They shot lights-out the first game this (afternoon), and they missed some of those shots tonight. We were fortunate to get enough rebounds and make enough plays there in the second half to secure the win. ”
Welmer led North with 19 points, while Speidel added 15 points, 12 rebounds and four assists. Christian Glass had 10 points off the bench.
“We have a lot to learn,” Speer said. “This team has a very, very high ceiling, and we had a very good showing.”
The Bull Dogs led from start to finish in the semifinal win over Harrison (3-4). North used a 10-0 second-quarter run to break a 17-17 tie and a 9-0 run late in the third quarter to break it open and led by as many as 22 in the fourth quarter.
“Our transition game was there,” Speer said. “We did a phenomenal job of hitting the open man and trusting one another, and defensively, the perimeter guys did a good job on three good guards and our bigs protected the rim.”
“We worked on (transition) all week,” Henry said. “We kind of struggled with that against Franklin Central, Cathedral and East, and that was a big emphasis in this game — to get our transition points back up.”
Henry led the Bull Dogs with 24 points and three steals. Welmer scored 20 points, while Speidel had 16 points and 15 rebounds and Trent Larson added 11 points for North, which outrebounded the Warriors 41-24.
“We just wanted to come out here and show that the East game wasn’t us,” Henry said. “We wanted to come out here and show everyone in the state what we were made of.”
Speidel and Welmer made the All-Tournament team, along McIntosh and Sean Sellers of Greensburg, Mt. Vernon’s C.J. Coleman and Harrison’s Ernie Duncan.
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