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Columbus East senior guard Kyle Taylor was the first player in line to congratulate all the guys he grew up with, the ones who would be playing for a sectional title tonight. It just wouldn’t be him.
No. 3 Columbus North simply had too much firepower for the Olympians and its 76-62 victory set up tonight’s 7:30 p.m. game at Columbus North High School against Bloomington South for the sectional title.
The Bull Dogs’ victory also ended the career of the East seniors.
“They just had a stretch in the third quarter where they were hitting shots and we weren’t,” said Taylor, who finished with 11 points and a great defensive effort. “This is always tough, knowing it is your last game, knowing it is going to end.
“I know a lot of those guys because we all grew up playing basketball together. But nothing can make this easier.”
When North takes the court against defending champion Bloomington South tonight, Taylor said he probably would be in the gym. “We’re not on the same team, but that doesn’t mean we’re not family.”
Although North’s Sawyer Glick wasn’t the game’s high scorer (he finished with 19 points), he was the difference. He had 11 of his points in the first half, when North edged in front 31-27, and he started a devastating 8-0 spurt early in the third quarter with a terrific steal and a length-of-the-court drive for a lay-up. He had five assists in the second half, when North’s talent level became too much for East to withstand.
“I think that was the best game of Sawyer’s career, all around,” North coach Jason Speer said.
Glick agreed that it was a special night. “Personally, I thought I played well,” he said. “But in the second half, our whole team started to click.”
It clicked despite a shot just inside half-court that East’s Bryce Lienhoop dropped at the first-half buzzer. North never blinked.
“They got a little momentum right there,” said Glick, who had five steals. “I knew we would have to pick it up a little. I think we really responded.”
Lienhoop finished with 21 points and senior Zach Martindale had 14 points for the Olympians, who finished the year 14-7. Lienhoop, a junior, tried to carry the load most of the way, but as North started to pull away, he started forcing his game a bit.
North’s student body waited patiently to rush the court after the victory, because after all, it was a win against East, but the Bull Dogs (22-1) remained rather subdued because they have more work to do. North hasn’t won a sectional championship since 1997.
“I think we are going to have to be better if we want to win a sectional championship,” Speer said. “Some things we did well, but other things we need to improve upon.”
One thing that North did was to harass East guard Nate Rich, who finished with seven points and who didn’t have a 3-pointer. “Nate has been such a special player for them for so long,” Speer said. “We had to run him off the 3-point line. It was better for us if he got two-point baskets or got to the foul line.”
Glick and North guard Evan Henry, who scored 18 points, kept the heat on Rich all night.
North’s hard work open up things offensively for center Tori Jackson, who led the Bull Dogs with 20 points. Jackson had three dunks.
However, North didn’t do a very good job protecting the basketball and it made several unforced turnovers. “I told the guys we are going to have to take it to Bloomington South,” Speer said. “They are the defending champs.
“We’ve been here before, and now we have to get over the hump.”
Bloomington South beat Bloomington North 62-60 in the opening game on Friday night at Columbus North High School.
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