For high school basketball players, things really heat up during the summer.
Columbus North’s summer boys basketball season ended against the same team that the high school season ended with.
The latest result was much better for the Bull Dogs.
North wrapped up a busy month of June with an 84-59 win over Bloomington South on Thursday at Memorial Gym. The Panthers beat the Bull Dogs 58-49 in the Bloomington South Sectional final in March.
The win gave North a 24-5 record for its summer season. The Bull Dogs won the Indiana Wesleyan Tournament, won a D-I Camp at Spiece Fieldhouse in Fort Wayne and went 2-2 in a tournament at Indianapolis and 3-2 in the summer league.
“The idea going into it was to make the guys hit the wall,” North coach Jason Speer said. “With all the games that we played in a short period of time, we knew at this point that we were only going to be so good without film and without practice, and the guys really did a nice job of working with each other and competing the entire time.”
The Bull Dogs’ losses in the summer league came against Bloomington North and Martinsville when leading scorers Sawyer Glick (sprained ankle) and Evan Henry (deep cut) were out of the lineup.
Speer used a big lineup most of the summer, going with the 6-foot-2 Henry and 6-4 1/2 Glick at guard, 6-5 Clint Cunningham at guard/forward, and 6-7 Josh Speidel and 6-7 Tori Jackson in the post.
“We try to use that to our advantage,” Speer said. “(Thursday) we put up 84 points, and we didn’t drop anything with our speed.
“We talk a lot about playing the right way and getting familiar with one another really quick and getting all of our offensive things in, getting all of our defensive things in,” he added. “Then, when physical conditioning starts and the preseason, hopefully, we’re fine-tuning a lot of things early and we just have a really successful season next year.”
All of North’s players were returning varsity members, except 6-6 junior Elliott Welmer. Welmer, who played junior varsity last winter, was the first player off the bench Thursday against Bloomington South.
“Elliott’s had a tremendous offseason,” Speer said. “I’m really happy with his development. His shooting has been really good; his defense is solid; and if we get him to rebound and things like that, he’s going to be a great basketball player.”
Columbus East, meanwhile, will look to challenge for a sectional title in the high school season after falling to Bloomington South on a last-second shot in the semifinals. The Olympians return all five starters.
“The older kids, we’ve really seen a lot of improvement,” East coach Brent Chitty said. “We’ve seen growth in their game, so we’re really pleased.
“We’re going to have some younger kids really explode onto the scene,” he added. “I really like Connor Umphress’ development. Bryce Lienhoop continues to develop. Ridge Harris is a kid we’ve seen a lot of things out of, as well.”
Chitty wasn’t sure of the Olympians’ record this summer but said the team won more than it lost and that its losses were close games.
“The thing I’ve really been impressed with is, I really like the attitude,” he said. “They’ve worked extremely hard. In our open gyms and our strength and conditioning workouts, the work ethic they’ve put into it, I’m really proud of. The steps these guys have taken this summer, I hope we continue to go down that path. I hope to continue to watch these guys work hard.”