THE Columbus North boys basketball team was trying to finish its regular season with another great effort.
Seymour was trying to finish plays.
Two teams in very different situations did their best to prepare for the future during the Bull Dogs’ 79-42 victory Tuesday night against the visiting Owls.
For North, which finished the regular season 19-5, it was an emotional senior night pregame celebration followed by a somewhat sluggish start. A 7-0 Seymour run in the opening quarter put the Owls up 7-3.
After that, North’s pressure man defense was too much for the Owls to handle. North led 14-10 at the end of the first quarter and 30-14 at halftime.
“We started slow, but I think we were wrapped up in the festivities,” said North senior guard Christian Glass, who nailed three treys on his way to 16 points. “It was definitely emotional for us. We were just working on staying intense because we will have to be at our best intensity during the sectionals.”
That intensity was a little too much for a developing Seymour squad to handle. Even when the Owls, who finished the regular season 2-16, worked the ball through North’s defense to get it inside, they seldom finished with a basket, often getting the ball swatted away by North’s big men such as 6-foot-8 Josh Speidel and 6-foot-9 Elliott Welmer.
“When you play a team as good as them, the margin of error is very small,” said Owls coach Kyle Clough. “It was a tall task, and we needed to be sharper to stay in that game for a longer time.”
Clough is working with his players on being stronger to the bucket but facing North makes that task even tougher.
“Their length bugs you,” Clough said. “It’s always in the back of your mind. Our guys were cautious of it, but I think you have to give more credit to (North).”
North coach Jason Speer announced a starting lineup of seniors Glass, Welmer, Evan Henry, Nick Littrell and Andre Abedian.
Abedian, who is out with a broken leg, walked on the court in street clothes, then was replaced before the opening tap by Speidel, a junior.
“It was a memorable night,” Speer said. “All those guys, in their own way, mean a lot to this program. From Evan, who is a four-year starter to self-made players in Elliott and Christian to guys like Andre and Nick, who have had to face some bad physical elements.”
Littrell, whose time has been limited by a foot injury, finished with eight points, including a 3-pointer that he buried.
“To be able to play a lot in front of everyone was special,” Littrell said. “It makes you want to play that much harder.”
Although Littrell had to battle injuries just to play a reserve role, he said the experience was worth it.
“I know the position I am in,” he said. “But I am ready to do whatever I can to help this team.”
The Bull Dogs got help from all kinds of sources. Junior guard Kooper Glick led the scoring with 18 points while, like Glass, Speidel had 16.
Richie Hill scored 17 points for the Owls while Isaiah Thomas added 10, including six made free throws.
Thomas, a 6-foot-2 junior, was the one Owls player who seemed to be able to finish the play once he got free in the paint.
“He was come so far and has improved so much,” Clough said. “Lately, he has been starting to finish plays, and he shoots a good percentage from the free throw line which we are trying to tell him is important. This next year and a half should be very good for him.”
Seymour sophomore point guard Toriek Miller was under double-team pressure most of the game, and he fought from beginning to end, trying to penetrate North’s interior defense with mixed results.
“He is a young kid who was facing more length than he has seen all year,” Clough said. “But I thought he did some good things.
“Every game we want to focus on positives, and eventually we’re going to be able to play against these good teams.”
In the fourth quarter, Speer gave his seniors a final curtain call, taking them out to a nice ovation.
“I’ve been here four years, in front of these fans,” Glass said. “We’ve got some important games coming up, but I’m sure this will hit all of us down the road.”