RICHMOND — The Columbus North boys basketball team found out late Wednesday night that its first-round opponent — Louisville Moore — wouldn’t be making the trip to Richmond for the Bob Wettig Memorial Tournament.
The Richmond junior varsity took Moore’s place in the 16-team event, and for 2½ quarters Thursday, the Red Devils resembled a seasoned varsity squad. They stayed close before North pulled away for an 86-67 win at Earlham College.
“I still think that not having a scouting report for the Richmond junior varsity really hurt us,” North coach Jason Speer said. “Our team really relies on that. We let a couple of kids get away from us on those 3-point shots.”
The defending champion Bull Dogs (6-1) will play Class 2A No. 2 Tipton in the quarterfinals at 7 p.m. today at Richmond High School. Win or lose, North will play two more games on Saturday.
The Red Devil JV (6-2) led 10-8 five minutes into the game before North used a 10-0 run, capped by a pair of Elliott Welmer 3-pointers, to take the lead for good.
Richmond was still within 42-35 with 5½ minutes left in the third quarter when the Bull Dogs used an 11-0 run to pull away.
“We got off to a slow start, but the second half, I thought we started to play better,” said Welmer, who came off the bench to hit all five of his 3-point attempts and lead North with 19 points, seven rebounds and three assists. “We haven’t practiced in a few days, and were just a little rusty, but we’ll get it fixed.”
The Bull Dogs shot 54.7 percent (35 of 64) from the field, including 68.8 percent (22 of 32) in the second half. They made 6 of 11 3-pointers.
“We took great shots,” Speer said. “I don’t think the shots we had in the first half were bad shots. We were maybe just a little bit rusty or weren’t concentrating as well as we should have, but we had a really, really good second-half effort.”
Welmer led five Bull Dogs in double figures. Tori Jackson scored 15 points, while Josh Speidel added 13, Sawyer Glick 12 and Connor Oren 11. Welmer and Jackson each grabbed seven rebounds to lead North to a 41-22 advantage on the boards.
“It obviously was not our best effort, especially in the first half, but we’re not going to look too much into it,” Speer said. “We know that we’ve played good up to this point in the season. We’re going to try to put our best foot forward here for the rest of the tournament.”
Jennings County wins
Jennings County jumped out to a 17-4 lead after one quarter and never looked back en route to a 59-42 win against Rock Creek Academy. The Panthers (6-2) will play defending 3A state champion Guerin Catholic at 4 p.m. today at Richmond High School.
Brad Hunt led Jennings with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Dan Leach added 10 points.
“We had a couple days off from practice, so we were just sloppy tonight,” Jennings interim coach Joe Hartwell said. “We didn’t really accomplish much offensively, and we had too many breakdowns defensively. But we’re happy to win, and we’re hoping to play better (today).”