RICHMOND — With a tough schedule ahead, the Columbus North boys basketball team was presented with a breather in Thursday’s opener of the Bob Wettig Memorial Tournament at Richmond High School.
Not that the two-time defending tournament champion Bull Dogs were taking Indianapolis Tindley lightly, but North was able to rest its starters the entire fourth quarter of a 78-27 victory.
“To come out and get some confidence and get our legs back under us was nice,” North coach Jason Speer said.
The Class 4A No. 10 Bull Dogs (6-2) crushed the Class A No. 5 Tigers (5-1).
“It was a good bounce-back win after a tough loss Saturday to Greensburg (in the Hall of Fame tournament in New Castle),” North junior forward Josh Speidel said. “That was one we felt we should have won that we let slip away.”
Speidel finished Thursday’s game with 14 points, 12 rebounds and four steals.
“It was a good comeback, and for the most part we executed the right way,” he said.
Bull Dogs senior Elliott Welmer had a game-high 16 points to go with 10 rebounds.
“We shot a lot better than we did against Greensburg and were maybe a little bit more physical,” Welmer said. “We got our confidence back. It’s a good win for the team.”
Speidel and Welmer led the Bull Dogs to a 50-28 advantage on the boards.
“I thought our rebounding was tremendous,” Speer said. “Our big guys protected the rim really well, which made it obviously difficult for Tindley to score.”
The game was tied at 9-9 midway through the first quarter when North took control. The Bull Dogs went on a 36-6 run to take a 45-15 lead with a minute left in the first half.
“I think a lot of it was being able to defend the rim and then being able to finish plays,” Speer said. “I thought we did a nice job of getting out in transition.”
Christian Glass came off the bench to hit three 3-pointers during the run.
“I think we were moving the ball well, finding open guys and finishing,” Speidel said. “Our shooters shot well, and we were rebounding the ball well, and we were finding open men.”
Finding open men was not a problem.
“We had a lot of transition baskets and ran the floor very well,” Welmer said. “We hit the boards hard today.”
North limited Tindley to nine points in the second half. The Tigers didn’t score a field goal in the second half until only 58 seconds remained in the third quarter, and they made only three second-half field goals.
Evan Henry scored 15 points for the Bull Dogs, while Glass finished with 11. Trent Larson had five assists.
North will face Bedford North Lawrence (2-3) in the quarterfinals at 5:30 p.m. today. Win or lose, the Bull Dogs will then play two games on Saturday.
Speer said his team will need another big defensive effort against BNL, where he once played and coached.
“We have to run them off the 3-point line,” Speer said. “They’re great 3-point shooters. Then, we need to get the ball out in transition and feed our big guys, and I think everything else will play out well.”