Panthers tame Bull Dogs / North’s season ends with loss to top-ranked Bloomington South

Columbus North picked up a lot of momentum to start the second half of Friday night’s boys basketball sectional semifinal game against Class 4A No. 1 Bloomington South.

The Panthers then turned the game upside down.

A strong run by Bloomington South in the middle of the third quarter sent the Panthers on their way to ending Columbus North’s season 59-49.

Bloomington South moves on to face East Central, which upset Bloomington North 67-55 in the first semifinal contest, in the sectional final slated for 7:30 p.m. today.

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The teams were tied 2-2 in the first quarter, until the Panthers (25-0) went on an 8-2 run with 3-point baskets by Joey Bomba and Noah Jager during the run. Two Blake Barker free throws and a Reese Harmon layup cut the deficit to 10-6 with about three minutes left in the first. The final basket in the quarter came from an offensive putback from Bomba off a miss with 40 seconds to go to give Bloomington South 12-6 lead.

After Indiana University commit Anthony Leal scored to extend it to 14-6, the Bull Dogs (18-6) came back with great ball movement with baskets by Harmon, Casper Clark and Will King to make it 14-12. The Panthers answered right back on the offensive end when Jager hit three 3-pointers to help the Panthers end the second quarter on a 9-2 run to lead 23-16 at halftime.

Columbus North came out with intensity to start the second half to cut it to 25-22 and had the ball with a chance to cut it to one or tie, but a turnover led to a three-point play by Leal that ignited a 14-2 Bloomington 14-2 run to open the lead to 39-24. The Panthers led 40-28 heading into the fourth.

The Bull Dogs cut the deficit to seven late in the fourth, but didn’t have enough offensive firepower to come back.

Blake Barker and Harmon each scored 10 points to lead North. Jager and Leal led the Panthers with 18 and 16 points, respectively.

North coach Paul Ferguson appreciated his four seniors — Nick Schiavello, Clark, Will King and Cam Wischmeyer.

“One of the hardest things about tonight is just seeing how hard those guys took the loss,” Ferguson said. “They really wanted to practice one more day, and we are really sad to see them go. They’re tremendous leaders, actually players and role models in our school. We love these guys.”

Schiavello appreciated his time and memories with the program.

“This season is one of the best seasons I’ve ever had. I love and cherish this time with these guys for the rest of my life,” Schiavello said. I’m upset that we came up short, but in the end, it is about the memories I made with these guys. It’ll last a lifetime. I won’t remember winning or losing, I’ll remember the guys I was with and the memories I’ve had.”

Schiavello’s basketball career isn’t over. He has committed to play at Wheaton next year.

“I’m really excited to start at Wheaton next year. I’m ready to see what the next four years holds for me,” Schiavello said. “I’m sad it is the last time that I put a Columbus North jersey on. It’s going to take a little while to get over that. I’ll get there, and I’m very excited for my future ahead.”