INDIANAPOLIS — With emotions running high in the Hoosier Invitational at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Saturday, the Columbus North boys basketball team suffered a tough 58-56 loss to a late-charging East Central squad.
The Trojans put together a 13-0 run near the end of the third quarter and into the early part of the fourth quarter to overcome some gritty play by the Bull Dogs.
Before the game, a video message was played from the Indiana Pacers to honor hospitalized North senior Josh Speidel. Paul George, David West and Roy Hibbert were among those who shared their concern for Speidel, who is in critical but stable condition at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis after being injured in an auto accident Feb. 1.
Before the message was played, East Central warmed up by wearing T-shirts with Speidel’s 32 on the back.
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“The community support and outreach we have received so far has just been crazy,” North senior wing Trent Larson said. “Seeing the Pacers’ video just brings it to a whole new level.
“We play for (Speidel), but we also try help each other at times because we miss him a lot. He was a big part of our team.”
Larson, who tore knee ligaments a week ago and appeared to be out for the rest of the season, also has been a big part of the team and he played limited minutes against East Central, scoring six points.
Larson’s decision to play added inspiration to an already emotionally-charged atmosphere.
Even so, it was a tough loss to North, which is doing everything it can to work through a difficult situation.
North senior Kooper Glick had a terrific offensive game with 18 points, but he couldn’t quite get the Bull Dogs over the top.
“We really want to go out and play our best for him,” Glick said of Speidel. “I know that he would want us to just play hard, maybe even play harder than him.”
North coach Jason Speer continues in his attempt to guide his boys through a difficult time.
“It’s been completely amazing when we lose our best friend to see everyone come together,” Speer said. “It hurts really bad, but we will continue to compete every game.”
Speer thought his players performed at a high level with extreme effort.
“Our desire was right there, but we just didn’t find the extra step we needed,” Speer said. “East Central just got us there at the end.”
North built a 27-20 lead at halftime with some solid defensive play. Starting the third quarter, Glick would score seven points that sparked a 9-0 run to push the lead to double digits at 36-24.
However, it was at that point the Trojans got it together, scoring the final seven points of the quarter to make it 36-31.
The Trojans duo of Hunter Kammer and Matt Schuman would hurt the Bull Dogs in the fourth quarter as they scored 23 of the 27 Trojans’ fourth-quarter points.
The Bull Dogs simply could not find the basket to counter as the Trojans eventually pulled ahead 47-44 with less than two minutes remaining in the game. North did drain four 3-pointers in the final minute and a half, but East Central countered with Kammer and Schuman going a perfect 9-for-9 from the foul line.
“I thought we got lost on defense at times and just could not nail our shots,” Glick said. “It is hard for us to click the entire game with a lot of freshmen and sophomores coming up from JV, so it will take some time for us to build chemistry.”
Speer said credit had to be given to East Central.
“It was not about what we did wrong but rather what East Central was doing right,” Speer said. “They attacked the rim better, and them knocking down their free throws at the end was huge.”