Last year, the Columbus North girls basketball team knocked off a pair of top-ranked squads to capture the Hall of Fame Classic in what would be the highlight of an undefeated regular season.
Saturday at New Castle, the Bull Dog boys will try to duplicate the girls’ feat from a year ago.
“It’s a great honor for a committee to sit there and say how our team plays, and for our kids to go up there and experience that, it’s an award for a lot of hard work,” North coach Jason Speer said. “So we’re very, very grateful.”
The Bull Dogs (4-1) will play Evansville Harrison in the semifinals at around 12:30 p.m. Saturday. The Warriors are led by 6-foot-3 senior Vermont recruit Ernie Duncan, an Indiana Junior All-Star last season, and his twin brothers, juniors Everett and Stanley Duncan.
“You talk about Evansville Harrison, you talk about some great guard play,” Speer said. “They’re very, very quick, so we’ll have to keep them in front of us and then hopefully be able to establish the things that we want to establish.”
Defending Class 3A state champion Greensburg and Mt. Vernon (Fortville) meet in the opener at 11 a.m. The championship game is at 6 p.m. Saturday, with the championship to follow at around 7:30 p.m.
Greensburg is led by Junior All-Stars Sean Sellers (Ball State) and Bryant McIntosh (Northwestern). Mt. Vernon senior C.J. Coleman (UNC-Greensboro) was a Junior All-Star.
“It does not get any easier,” Speer said. “We have a very, very difficult early schedule. We’re going to have to keep grinding and keep getting better.”
Loaded field set for North
The North girls knocked off eventual final four teams Roncalli and Fort Wayne South in winning last year’s inaugural Subway/Columbus North Invitational. This year’s field could be even tougher.
The 4A No. 5 Bull Dogs (8-1) open the tournament at 6 p.m. Friday against perennial Ohio power Dayton Chaminade-Julienne.
“They’re a traditionally strong program,” North coach Pat McKee said. “I’m not sure they’re quite as strong this year as some years, but they’re a capable team and they have two or three really good players. If we think we’re just going to walk out there, we could have our eyes opened. If we play like we played (in last week’s win over Columbus East), I think we’ll be all right.”
Win or lose Friday, the Bull Dogs will play in the semifinals at 11:45 a.m. Saturday against the winner of the Richmond-Notre Dame Academy winner. Notre Dame, from Park Hills, Ky., in the Cincinnati area, was the state runner-up in Kentucky last season.
The other side of the bracket features 4A No. 8 Roncalli, 3A No. 1 Evansville Mater Dei, Wisconsin power Milwaukee Rufus King and Mishawaka.
Chaminade-Julienne and Mater Dei are limited to two games in the tournament and will play in first-round games Friday night and in consolation-round games Saturday morning.
The consolation final will be at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, followed by the third-place game at 5:15 p.m. and the championship game at 7 p.m.
“We could schedule a tournament and get weaker teams in here and have three good wins, or we could schedule good teams,” McKee said.
“Last year, we were able to win our tournament against really good teams. We want to get some things exposed so that we can get better, and I think we’ve tried to set up a tournament field that will do that.”
East ready for ‘Rumble’
After falling to Fishers in the finals of the Rumble on the River tournament at Southwestern (Hanover) the past two years, the East girls are hoping to claim the title this weekend.
The Olympians (3-4) will play Silver Creek at 4 p.m. Friday in the last of four first-round games.
“All the years our team’s been going down there, this is probably our best draw,” East coach Danny Brown said. “Silver Creek is a team we’ve never played before, and we’ve always played at like 8, 9, 10 in the morning, and we’re playing at 4 o’clock in the afternoon.”
The loser of the East-Silver Creek game plays the loser of the McCutcheon-Southwestern game at 8 p.m. Friday. The winners of those games play in the semifinals at noon Saturday.
Connersville, Austin, Fishers and Scottsburg are on the other side of the bracket. The seventh-place game is at 2 p.m. Saturday, followed by the fifth-place game at 4 p.m., the third-place game at 6 p.m. and the title game at 8 p.m.
“I like the draw because if we win (against Silver Creek), there’s a good chance we’ll play McCutcheon again, who we beat last year, and if we win that we’re in the championship,” Brown said. “We just have to take care of business.”
The Hauser and Brown County girls will play in the Toby Yoho Tournament Friday and Saturday at Eastern Greene.
On Friday, the Jets will play Eastern Greene at 9:30 a.m. at Eastern High School and Monrovia at 1 p.m. at Eastern Middle School. The Eagles will face Clay City at 9:30 a.m. and Paoli at 4:30 p.m., both at the middle school.
Each team will play two games on Saturday. Teams will play pool crossover games at 9:30 a.m., 11:15 a.m. or 1 p.m. Saturday, followed by placement games.
Hauser’s game at Knightstown, which was originally scheduled for Dec. 21, has been rescheduled for Jan. 21.
Ted Schultz is a sports writer for The Republic. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org