LOCAL high school basketball coaches Jason Speer and Brent Chitty didn’t want to get real complicated when talking about tonight’s semifinal games of the Shelbyville Sectional.
In the 6 p.m. game, Speer’s Columbus North squad must face Bloomington North, which gave his team all it could handle in Columbus North’s 64-61 win Feb. 21.
“They made shots,” Speer said. “They got hot when we got cold.”
Chitty’s Columbus East team meets Bloomington South in a 7:30 p.m. game. The Panthers beat the Olympians 58-48 on Jan. 14.
“It’s real simple,” Chitty said. “They out-toughed us. They played tougher in every facet.”
So if North makes its shots, and East gets tough, then the two teams will meet in the sectional championship game at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
If only it was that simple.
Both coaches said none of the teams can change too much after a season’s worth of play, but all coaches will add a few “wrinkles.”
The Bull Dogs (20-5) go into tonight’s game knowing they did manage to win the previous
encounter with Bloomington North.
“I thought our big guys made plays,” Speer said. “Elliott (Welmer) in the first quarter and Jason (Speidel) for the final three.”
Speidel finished with 26 points and, after senior guard Evan Henry had given the Bull Dogs a 62-61 lead with 36 seconds remaining, Speidel had a steal and two free throws to seal the deal. Bloomington North coach Andy Hodson will be trying to devise a way to slow down Speidel.
The Bull Dogs will be giving attention to Bloomington North’s Grant Sims, who scored 22 points in that game.
Whatever the coaches manage to do, it most likely will be close. Of Bloomington North’s eight losses, five have been by four points or less.
The Cougars (12-8) have won seven of nine games, including a 71-44 victory against Hoosier Hills Conference champion New Albany in the regular-season finale.
Speer said the key for his squad, which won a share of the Conference Indiana title with that win over Bloomington North, is to play more consistently over four quarters. In a 67-50 victory against Shelbyville in the first round on Tuesday, a poor third quarter by the Bull Dogs allowed the Golden Bears to get back into the game after they had trailed by 20 points.
“Our frustration goes way up,” Speer said of his team’s propensity to fall into some difficult streaks.
Columbus East might have to overcome some frustration itself. In the loss to Bloomington South, the Olympians (17-4) were frustrated when the Panthers packed all their players into the paint on defense. East had little inside presence in that game, but senior center Bryce Lienhoop was playing ill.
Lienhoop is back at full strength, but the Panthers are hot. They are 14-7 and have won four of five.
“It was a tough bullet to bite,” Chitty said of his team’s getting out-toughed the first time around against Bloomington South. “That shows up as defensively, not handling the pressure, and rebounding, and all the fundamentals of the game.
“But I think we’re playing hard and we’re playing smart now. The keys for us is that we had better be tough, and we had better hit shots.”
Bloomington South is coached by J.R. Holmes, who has a 695-318 record in his 31 years of coaching.
Chitty is 240-193 in his 20th season of coaching. He is 54-35 at East.
“It’s fun to play programs with a great tradition,” Chitty said. “And those guys like (Holmes) are few and far between.”
Holmes most likely will again put most of his team’s attention on stopping Lienhoop inside. In the Jan. 14 game, East sophomore point guard Parker Chitty had 21 points, but Lienhoop and junior forward Connor Umphress were limited. The Olympians coach will have to get those two players involved more.
Brent Chitty also will need to figure out a way to slow down Bloomington South’s Keaton Hendricks, who had 21 points against the Olympians.