THE Columbus East boys basketball team might not have been flawless in the third quarter of its 65-45 victory against Bedford North Lawrence on Friday, but the Olympians only were about three plays away from it.
Coming out of halftime with a 28-23 lead, the Olympians turned their Hoosier Hills Conference game into a rout by going 8 for 10 from the field and 3 for 3 from the free-throw line while committing only one turnover.
Their 20-8 advantage in the third quarter put the game on ice and left a solid Stars team wondering what it had done wrong.
The answer was “not much.” It wasn’t so much that Bedford North Lawrence (3-2, 0-1) struggled as much as East simply played its best game of the season to raise its record to 3-0 and 2-0 in the HHC.
“We have not played good defense all year,” said East coach Brent Chitty. “But we worked hard on the defensive end, and all 10 of our kids played good defense.”
Indeed, the Olympians played some terrific defense, especially in the paint. Except for some momentary lapses on the Stars’ Jackson Ryan, a 6-foot-7 center who scored 14 points, they owned that area on both ends of the floor.
Bedford North Lawrence’s Morgan Cummings finished with 10 points on jumpers, including a pair of 3s, and that was about it on offense for the Stars.
Just about every player Chitty put on the floor had a hand in East’s offense. The movement was crisp all night, and especially in the third quarter when the Olympians scored seven of the eight baskets in the paint. The other bucket was a 3-ball by guard Nate Rich.
“We have a good offense that we run,” said Olympians forward Ridge Harris, who finished with six points. “It gets repetitive in practice sometimes, but it helps us rotate the ball real well.”
Despite the presence of Ryan, and the fact that Bedford North Lawrence crashed the boards hard, East dominate the boards as well.
“We just out-bodied them,” Harris said.
“I thought we did a good job rebounding and limiting their opportunities,” Chitty said. “Their kids play hard and smart.”
Zach Martindale set up camp under the basket for East in the first quarter and had six of his game-high 15 points to get the Olympians off to a 17-10 lead. It would have been worse for Bedford North Lawrence, but Jesse Millikan hit a long 3-pointer at the buzzer.
The second quarter was evenly played before East exploded in the third quarter.
“We had a good locker room talk,” Harris said. “And our defense dictates our offense.”
East’s defense limited the Stars to 3-of-13 shooting in the third quarter.
Ten players scored for the Olympians, with Bryce Lienhoop also finishing in double figures with 12 points. Harris, Rich, Dakota Thompson, Connor Umphress and Connor Jensen all had six points.