Eager To Return / North, East boys anxious to get back on court following quaranties

Two boys basketball teams who haven’t played a game in weeks hope to be able to get back on the court soon.

Columbus North and Columbus East both fell victim to quarantine after opponents who they had hosted had players test positive for COVID-19.

The Bull Dogs have been idle since a Dec. 5 win against Martinsville after they found out a Shelbyville player tested positive following their Dec. 4 contest. The Olympians have been off since a Dec. 11 game against Bedford North Lawrence after they found out a BNL player tested positive.

As a result, the East at North game, which had been scheduled for Friday, had to be postponed.

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The Bull Dogs had to postpone three other home games, two of which have been rescheduled. They will host Terre Haute South on Jan. 2 and Fishers on Jan. 16.

“We were playing well, and we were really excited about the opportunity to play Fishers,” North coach Paul Ferguson. “They’re a really good team, and we wanted to use them as a measuring stick. We played well at Carmel, but didn’t get the ‘W.’”

After dropping their opener 61-51 at Class 4A No. 2 Carmel, the Bull Dogs reeled off four wins in a row.

“We felt like we were getting better each game,” Ferguson said. “At this point in the season, it’s all about growth. We saw a lot of individual growth, as well as the growth as a team.”

North added a game for Tuesday at Lawrence Central. The junior varsity will begin at 1 p.m., with the varsity to follow at around 3 p.m.

Following the two-week quarantine, the Bull Dogs returned to practice this week.

“I’m fortunate to have five really committed seniors,” Ferguson said. “Yes, we’ve been on quarantine, but they’ve been looking for ways to stay in shape. They’re hungry to play again.”

East, meanwhile, has started the season 0-4, but they’ve been getting closer. Following a season-opening loss to 3A then-No. 1 Silver Creek, the Olympians’ last three losses have come by a combined 13 points. They fell to BNL 68-66.

“When you have close games like that, and you don’t finish them out, you just have to look at, what can you change? What do we need to do to get us over the hump?” East coach Brent Chitty said. “That’s exactly where we’re at when we got quarantined. We talked about five things we needed to work on. We’ll come back and start working on those things.”

Among those things will be possession, getting stops when the opponents make runs and rebounding.

“The thing that we’re really focusing on is becoming a better rebounding team,” Chitty said. “No. 2, one of the things is how to handle a run and make stops. Then, just be really good in our execution and clean up our defensive execution, how to stop people from getting easy shots. We think those are things that we can fix.”

The Olympians will host Evansville Central on Dec. 30, with the JV starting at 1 p.m. and the varsity around 2:30 p.m.

East, which averaged only 48.2 points a game during last year’s 4-19 season, is scoring at a 70.8 clip through four games this season.

“We tried to open it up a little bit and make it fun,” Chitty said. “I just kind of felt like this group of kids was hesitant, and basketball is supposed to be fun. We want to get good shots and then shoot. Our young guys are still a little hesitant, but they’re still young. We believe in them. We’re not just letting it be a free-for-all, but we want to encourage them to be aggressive offensively and to be aggressive defensively.”