The Columbus East boys basketball team can attribute much of its success to being aggressive this season.
On Saturday night against visiting Franklin, the Olympians needed to temper that with a little patience. They couldn’t.
The Grizzly Cubs (11-3) claimed a 49-45 non-conference victory by holding East (11-3) to 18 second half points.
With possessions at a premium for both teams, East kept trying to force the ball inside against Franklin’s packed-in zone defense, and the result was seven turnovers in the final 16 minutes.
“We had good looks, but we weren’t as patient as we need to be,” East coach Brent Chitty said. “Heck, yeah, it was a good game that anyone could have won. They hit some big shots and we missed them.”
East junior forward Connor Umphress, who led all scorers with 23 points, said the Olympians allowed the Grizzly Cubs to get into their heads.
“We didn’t play very smart basketball,” Umphress said.
Franklin coach Jerry Bomholt said his team’s win was one of its smartest games of the year.
“We’ve been in the panic mode when we get down nine or 10 points,” Bomholt said. “We’ve played great defense all year, but we get stagnant and impatient on offense.”
Franklin not only worked methodically for good shots, it took advantage of them. The Cubs’ Nick King buried a 3-pointer at the 1:48 mark to give Franklin its first lead of the game at 45-42.
Umphress answered on the other end with a long 3 that tied the score with 1:15 remaining.
On Franklin’s ensuing possession, the Olympians forced a miss, but King worked his way inside for the offensive rebound and was fouled. King sank both free throws for a 47-45 lead.
Back the other way, the Olympians tried to force the ball inside for another turnover, and then had to foul. Franklin’s Bryce Platfoot, who scored a team-high 14 points, scored his only points of the second half with two free throws that iced it.
Franklin also went 12-for-12 at the free throw line.
Bomholt said his players concentrated on stopping East center Bryce Lienhoop, who had only four points.
“We wanted to take his game away and I think we did a nice job of that,” Bomholt said.
While Franklin was throwing waves of players at Lienhoop, East still was trying to force the ball to him at times.
“We kind of over-thought the game too much,” Lienhoop said. “But that game will help us.”
Both teams showed the kind of quality defense that should help them once the playoffs begin.
“I told Brent (Chitty) after that game that his team is very good,” Bomholt said. “I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be a joy if both our teams got to meet again the Regional?’”
If East expects to reach the regionals, it will have to take care of the ball better. The Olympians never seemed to find any offensive rhythm in the second half after looking very sharp in the opening 16 minutes when they were building a 27-21 lead.
Bomholt offered one explanation.
“That was their third game this week,” he said. “That was our first.”
Chitty’s standard comment is “no excuses,” and it really didn’t seem like the Olympians, who played hard the entire way, were tired. Franklin’s zone and half-court trap simply gave East fits.
East built a 10-2 lead early before Franklin found some offensive continuity and led 15-11 after one. The Olympians built a 27-17 lead in the second quarter but finished the half with two misses and two turnovers that allowed the Cubs to cut their deficit to 27-21.
Umphress scored 11 of East’s 18 points in the second half.