SHELBYVILLE — The Columbus North boys basketball team was feeling pretty good about its 15-point lead in the first half.
But Shelbyville wasn’t going away that easily.
The Golden Bears came out striking in the third quarter after trailing by 15 points in the first half. They cut the lead to eight going into the fourth quarter, but the Bull Dogs pulled away for a 64-50 win.
“We’ve got to find a killer instinct of some kind,” North coach Jason Speer said. “We put up a few good runs in the first half, but we have got to find a way to finish better.”
Shelbyville (3-8) went on a 12-6 run that was led by guard Mitchell Orem’s six points to cut North’s lead to 45-37 going into the fourth. But that was the closest the Golden Bears would get.
The Class 4A No. 9 Bull Dogs (12-3) relied on their free-throw shooting in the fourth quarter. Guard Evan Henry scored six points off free throws, and Elliott Welmer scored six points to help outscore the Bears 19-13.
“I give them a lot of credit,” Speer said of Shelbyville. “They came at us hard in the second half and Mitch had a lot of open opportunities to score.”
North went on an 18-4 run to begin the first quarter, led by guard Trent Larson’s five points, including a basket from behind the 3-point arc.
“I credit the team for giving me a lot of open chances to score,” Larson said of his first half. “I just needed to be more effective in the second half, and I wasn’t. I need to be able to give myself more open opportunities.”
The offensive rhythm of the Bull Dogs continued in the second quarter, as Elliott Welmer scored seven points and Josh Spiedel added four points and four rebounds to extend to a 37-22 lead at the half.
North had 13 rebounds at the half, with seven coming from Spiedel.
“I wanted to take advantage of their mistakes on the inside as much as I could,” Spiedel said. “We came out in the first half and did great, but somewhere along the way in the second half, we kind of fell apart.”
Larson scored 12 of his 14 points in the first half.
“I feel like we should’ve given him more touches in the second half,” Speer said. “He deserved to get more opportunities, and we needed to have a more conservative effort with the basketball.”
Speer said the team needs to be able to finish stronger defensively.
“Defensively, we had to dig deep,” Speer said of the fourth quarter. “When you have a team down like that, you have to be able to finish strong, and I feel like we need to do better at that.”
“We’re not happy with the way we played,” Spiedel said. “We know what we need to work on in order to finish stronger in the next game.”
Welmer, who led the Bull Dogs with 18 points, said the team needed to take advantage of its opportunities in the second half.
“We had a few missed opportunities in the third quarter,” Welmer said. “We knew in order to get past them and finish the game strong, we had to attack and keep attacking. We hit some big free throws that helped our lead, but we know we need to finish better.”
Henry finished with 12 points, while Speidel had 11 for North.