Columbus North breezed past Hauser and Shelbyville with an offensive average of more than 86 points and with a winning margin of 34 points per game. It was generally felt that visiting Martinsville would put a dent in Columbus North’s gaudy season stats.
The Artesians did just that; however the highly ranked Bull Dogs had more than enough numbers to secure their third victory of the young season at Memorial Gymnasium Saturday night.
With enough positives on clear display, North (3-0) stayed undefeated by virtue of a 65-50 decision against the visitors from Morgan County.
A positive in North’s victory was the Bull Dogs’ defensive effort against Martinsville’s top players (Greg Spina and Troy Spears). And the most significant number may have been four, the number of players North effectively used off of its bench.
A tight contest throughout the first half, North opened a 10-point lead in the third quarter. With just seconds remaining in the period, North coach Jason Speer emptied his bench. With subs Garrett Larson, Connor Oren, Elliott Welmer and Paul Salee on the floor with starter Sawyer Glick, the fivesome outscored Martinsville 6-4 over the next 4:15.
Using a spread offense to kill clock and displaying some hustling zone on the defensive end, the Bull Dogs had built a 54-41 lead before the starters re-entered at the 3:50 mark of the fourth quarter.
“Our starters were gassed,” Speer said. “And we have a strong bench. I’m proud of those guys. They made the last few minutes more comfortable for us.”
With Larson directing traffic, the Bull Dogs executed the spread flawlessly.
“We just try to embrace our roles,” Larson said. “I try to provide a spark.”
With Welmer’s 3-pointer and two buckets by Salee providing all the points during the four-minute span, Larson teamed with Salee to limit the production of Spears. The Martinsville junior scored only five of his team-high 15 points after intermission.
“Clint Cunningham also did a good job on him,” said Speer. “And Josh Speidel did a tremendous job on Spina. He had been shooting the lights out.”
Spina missed all six of his attempts from outside the arc in this game and scored only eight points.
After shooting more than 50 percent from the field (12-of-23) in the first half, the Artesians were limited to 33 percent in the second half by North’s improved defense.
The Bull Dogs were steady on offense throughout. Scoring 16, 15, 16 and 18 points in the four quarters, North shot 59 percent from the field in the first half and 55 percent for the game.
“We knew we had a huge advantage underneath so our game plan from the start was to get the ball into the post,” Speer said. “Our perimeter players did a great job of that. They got the ball to our big guys where they could finish pretty easily.”
Taking full advantage of the unselfish play, Speidel and Tori Jackson were on the receiving end of the passing and converted early and often. Jackson missed only three times in 10 attempts from the field and finished with a game-high 17 points. The 6-foot-8 senior also pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds for the winners who outrebounded Martinsville 28-21.
Speidel, a 6-7 sophomore, scored 14 points for North. Cunningham and Evan Henry added to the balanced attack with nine points each. Glick added seven.