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North improves to 7-1 in boys hoops

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RICHMOND — If the Columbus North boys are going to defend their Bob Wettig Memorial Tournament title, they could have to beat the same two teams today that they beat in last year’s final two rounds.

The Bull Dogs will face host Richmond at 1 p.m. today in a rematch of last year’s semifinal. North will play Class 3A No. 7 Guerin Catholic, which they beat in last year’s final, or Jeffersonville at 6 p.m. (consolation) or 7:30 p.m. (championship).

In Friday night’s quarterfinals, the Bull Dogs pulled out a 53-45 win over 2A No. 2 and previously unbeaten Tipton, which they beat in last year’s opening round.

The Bull Dogs (7-1) led by as many as 10 late in the first half and still led 33-25 with two minutes left in the third quarter before the Blue Devils (8-1) scored eight in a row to tie it. Tipton grabbed a 39-37 lead on a pair of Mike Crawford free throws with 4:04 remaining.

“It was kind of a rough game, and a couple things didn’t go our way, so we just had to persevere and stay strong,” said junior Evan Henry, who led North with 15 points. “We started playing tough. We started rebounding. We knew that they were going to come at us with everything, so we just had to shut them down and let heart and talent take over.”

So on the ensuing trip down the floor, Henry nailed a 3-pointer from the left corner to give the lead back to the Bull Dogs.

“They came my way, and I just tried to seize the opportunity to make a play for my team,” Henry said.

The Blue Devils briefly regained the lead on a basket by Nate Friend, but Josh Speidel converted a three-point play to give North the lead for good, and Garrett Larson converted a one-and-one to push the lead to 45-41.

Tipton cut it to two on a pair of Crawford free throws with 2:07 remaining, but Henry scored and Sawyer Glick and Speidel each sank two free throws to ice it.

“We just weren’t able to put them away,” North coach Jason Speer said. “They know how to win. They battled us the entire time, and we pulled it out in the end with some very good individual performances. Collectively, not our best effort, but there were a lot of individual plays that were made throughout the course of the game that were the difference in the game. I was glad to see the individual effort, but collectively, we have to play a little bit better to win this tournament.”

Speidel finished with 10 points and six rebounds. Elliott Welmer also grabbed six rebounds.

Crawford scored 30 of the Blue Devils’ 45 points.

“I definitely think he’s an Indiana All-Star,” Speer said. “He plays extremely hard. He does a lot of the little things that help teams win. He’s just a really, really good player, and we had a hard time with him.”

Jennings falls to Guerin

Defending 3A state champion Guerin Catholic jumped out to a 15-point halftime lead and went on to down Jennings County 62-43 in an afternoon quarterfinal.

Bryson Mills led the Panthers (7-3) with 10 points. Caleb Eder grabbed seven rebounds to lead Jennings to a 32-31 advantage on the boards.

The Panthers will play Mt. Lebanon (Pa.) at 9:30 a.m. today at Earlham College. The winner will play the winner of the Tipton-Bishop Chatard game for fifth place at 4:30 p.m. at Richmond High School, and the loser will play the loser of the Tipton-Chatard game for seventh place at 5 p.m. at Earlham.

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