THE Columbus North Bull Dogs, by virtue of an 85-77 Conference Indiana win against visiting Bloomington North, played their way into the record books.
It was in 1964 that the Columbus High School Bull Dogs, ranked No. 1 in the state, garnered a perfect 20-0 regular-season record before finishing the season 27-1.
The 2013 version of Bull Dogs, ranked second in Class 4A, got win No. 20 at Memorial Gym on Friday night. And it wasn’t easy.
“Everytime we play them, it’s close,” North senior Garrett Larson said. “We’ve been playing against the same guys for such a long time, it’s a real rivalry. We know each other so well.”
Columbus North, which finished 6-1 in the conference, was never able to shake the pesky, much smaller Cougars. The Bull Dogs’ biggest lead was nine points.
The Cougars kept it close by executing an offense that many times shredded North’s defense and ended with a layup.
“They know what it takes to compete. They are very well-coached, ” North coach Jason Speer said. “Tonight, it was them challenging us at the rim. We have to do a better job of keeping our gates closed.”
The “gates” were left wide open much of the night. The Cougars used their quickness to take full advantage. They also finished the game with a 32-25 rebounding advantage. But in the end, the firepower of the Bull Dogs proved too much for Bloomington North (11-8, 2-5).
“That is one heckuva team we lost to tonight,” Bloomington North coach Andy Hodson said. “Our kids played very well. We had a quickness advantage and wanted to attack their chests. We were successful at that.”
Starting five seniors on Senior Night, the Bull Dogs got out of the offensive gate fast. With senior Paul Salee scoring eight points in the first quarter, North led 25-22 at the first stop.
The Bull Dogs led by a pair at intermission and by eight at the end of the third quarter.
Forced to foul the Bull Dogs early and often in the fourth quarter, the Cougars’ strategy kept them close. The Bull Dogs saw to that by missing half of their 22 attempts from the foul line in the final eight minutes.
A defensive strategy by Speer with three minutes remaining played an important part in determining the final outcome. Switching from man-to-man to zone in the final minutes slowed the pace of the game considerably.
“That was a good move on their part,” said Hodson, now in his ninth-year of decision-making at Bloomington North. “It slowed us up a bit. We still scored, but we weren’t doing it every four seconds.”
The Bull Dogs were led in scoring by Evan Henry. The junior left-hander scored 25 points. Included was 4-of-6 firing from behind the 3-point line.
Senior Sawyer Glick, the team leader in assists and steals, scored 12. All came in the second half. Glick scored the first and last field goals of the third quarter with 3-pointers.
Sophomore Josh Speidel also scored 12. Salee had 11 for the Bull Dogs who hit 29 of 54 from the field, but only 18-of-31 from the foul line.
Grant Sims, a 6-foot-3 junior, led the Cougars with 28 points. Sims, at times, dominated play in the paint in hitting 10-of-18 from the field.
Bloomington North’s Drew Ludwig, a 6-4 sophomore, led all rebounders with nine. Ken Montgomery, a 5-10 sophomore pulled down eight missed shots. Speidel had five rebounds to lead the Bull Dogs.