Bull Dogs’ comeback falls just short

When Columbus North and Shelbyville met early in the season, the Bull Dogs rallied from a nine-point deficit with 1:15 left in regulation to win in overtime.

So when North trailed by double digits in the fourth quarter in Tuesday night’s North sectional opener, it looked like the Bull Dogs had another comeback in store.

In the end, however, time expired before the comeback could be completed, and North saw its season come to an end with a 57-54 loss.

With 4.4 seconds left to play, Army commit Zach Kuhn, missed the front end of a one-and-one, and the ball was tipped all the way to the Bull Dogs’ end of the basket. Nick Schiavello chased down the loose ball underneath the basket, but with North needing a 3-pointer to tie the game, he tried running behind the arc to get off a shot, but time expired before a shot attempt could be taken.

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“Credit to Shelbyville — they played really, really well,” North coach Paul Ferguson said. “(Shelbyville’s Josh) Williams was unbelievable. If you would have told me we were going to hold Kuhn to 10 points, I would have felt really good about our chances. (Williams) just blew up on us, and we had a hard time containing him.”

The Bull Dogs (16-8) did its job in keeping Kuhn, Shelbyville’s all-time leading scorer, in check for much of the first half. That also led to the North having trouble in stopping Williams.

Williams scored 17 of the Golden Bears’ 25 first-half points. Kuhn, meanwhile was only held to four in the opening half.

Schiavello went scoreless in the first quarter, but that all changed in the second. He scored 10 of the Bull Dogs’ 14 points in the quarter. That helped North cut the deficit to 25-23 at halftime after it  trailed 20-11 in the second quarter.

Williams scored a game-high 32 points, and Kuhn finished with 10 for Shelbyville (13-10), which advances to play East Central in Friday’s semifinals.

The Bull Dogs trailed 46-33 early in the fourth quarter, but started climbing back thanks to a 15-6 run to cut it to 52-50. The teams traded points down the stretch until the time ran out on the comeback.

Schiavello and Blake Barker both finished with a team-high 19 points for North

Ferguson is losing seniors Trenton Kelley, Patrick McKinley, Riley Ables, Cameron Ziegler, and Blake King, but the Bull Dogs future should be bright the next couple years returning starters Schiavello, Barker and Reese Harmon.

“I love my core coming back,” Ferguson said. “I think one advantage Shelbyville had was that they are a senior-heavy team, and seniors often find a way to win these games when their careers are on the line.”