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Bull Dogs overcome slow start, Panthers

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ELLIOTT Welmer must have thought he would be in for a long night Friday night when his first three shots from point-blank range rolled around and off the rim.

After that, Welmer was money in the bank.

The 6-foot-9 senior missed only one shot from the field over the final three quarters and scored a career-high 32 points to lead Columbus North to a 75-56 win against Bloomington South in a big Conference Indiana battle.

“I can’t base my night off a few shots at the beginning of the game,” Welmer said. “You have to push through it and fight through it and keep playing. You can’t get down on yourself.”

Welmer, who came into the game hitting only 3 of 23 shots from 3-point range, went 4 of 4 from beyond the arc. He was 9 of 14 overall from the field and 10-of-13 from the free-throw line.

“I started feeling it and kept taking confident shots, and they went in for me tonight,” Welmer said. “I keep making them and kept wanting to shoot them. I just try to take good shots and quality shots for the team.”

The Panthers (10-6, 1-3) led 16-10 in the opening minute of the second quarter. The Bull Dogs (15-4, 3-1) rallied to take a 30-28 halftime lead, then junior Josh Speidel scored seven points to spark a 10-2 North run to open the third quarter.

“B-South came out hot,” said Speidel, who finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds. “They hit a lot of shots, and we knew that we had to keep playing our game. We played a good first half. We knew we had to keep getting in their face and keep contesting shots.”

The Bull Dogs built the lead to 53-40 at the end of the third quarter and 66-46 with just under four minutes left in the game. They led as big as 75-51 before coach Jason Speer removed his starters with a little more than a minute remaining.

“After a relatively show start, I was very happy with the way we played the second, third and fourth quarters, both offensively and defensively,” Speer said.

North, which had blown double-digit second-half leads in losses to Mooresville and Southport two of the previous three Fridays, kept building its lead once they got it against Bloomington South. After committing eight fourth-quarter turnovers in the loss at Southport, the Bull Dogs had only one in the second half and six in the entire game against the Panthers.

“It’s been a point of emphasis for the team, mentally and physically,” Speer said. “I think the guys are embracing the things that we’re trying to work on, and we executed tonight, so I’m proud of them.”

“That was an emphasis that we strived for,” Welmer said. “We tried to take care of the ball, take quality shots and play very good defense in the fourth quarter, and that’s what we did.”

Kooper Glick and Evan Henry each scored eight points for North, which shot 54 percent (27-of-50) from the field, including 50 percent (9-of-18) from 3-point range. The Bull Dogs were 16-of-27 from the field, including 7-of-12 from 3-point range in the second half.

Welmer grabbed nine rebounds to go along with Speidel’s 10 to lead North to a 35-25 advantage on the boards.

“Elliott and Josh definitely had a Division I performance tonight,” Speer said. “But most importantly, I thought everybody played great defense and then whenever their opportunity arose, they knocked down the open shot when needed. It was a good all-around team effort with a couple of great individual performances.”

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