Bull Dogs start fast, fend off Panthers

Class 4A No. 10 Columbus North came out with a ton of energy to begin Saturday night’s boys basketball contest against Jennings County.

The Bull Dogs, who never trailed in the game, built a huge lead in the first half and never let up to roll by the Panthers 77-57.

“We knew that the start was going to be very important,” North junior Blake Barker said. “We had to do the little things — rebound, play defense and make sure we were mentally focused to start the game.”

The Bull Dogs (11-2) were more short-handed than they were Friday night against Terre Haute North, playing without starting center Cam Wischmeyer due to a sprained ankle, and Will King, who was under the weather.

[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]Click here to purchase photos from this gallery

It did not matter in the long run for North, which was on the attack early.

“We had two nights in a row where we got off to a great start,” North coach Paul Ferguson said. “Tonight, I was especially pleased with that, considering that Will King was sick and couldn’t play tonight. He is often an energy guy for us, someone that helps us get off to a good start, so I really thought our other guys stepped up.”

The Bull Dogs themselves an early 15-7 lead, then went on a 12-0 run to lead 27-7 after the first quarter. They started the second quarter on a 7-0 run that was capped with a Nick Schiavello 3-pointer to extend the lead to 33-7.

Jennings (6-5) briefly fought back with a 14-0 run to cut the deficit to 33-21. North, however, finished the rest of the half outscoring the Panthers 10-4 to lead 43-25 at the break.

The Panthers got to within 13 points at one point in the third quarter, but the Bull Dogs were too much for them to overcome, finishing out the period on an 11-2 scoring run to lead 61-39 to eventually put the game away.

Even in the absence of Wischmeyer and King, balanced scoring ruled once again for North. Blake Barker led all scorers with 25 points and had eight rebounds. Schiavello finished with 15, Reese Harmon had 11 and Casper Clark added 10.

“We were very pleased with the balanced scoring tonight. Obviously, we had four guys in double figures,” Ferguson said. “Blake had a big night offensively, but I just thought we had a lot of balance throughout the game inside and out. We hit seven 3s, so balance scoring is key for us.”

Aaron Martin led Jennings with 12 points, while Joe Kelley had 11 points and Jacob Vogel added 10 points and eight rebounds. Keegan Manowitz had seven assists.

North will visit Mooresville on Friday.

“We just have to stay focused with what we’re doing, keep our principles and not take anyone for granted, always coming out with the mentality that this team is going to give it their all, so we have to give it our all,” Barker said.