Better Late Than Never / Bull Dogs, Olympians to meet on basketball court

The Columbus North and Columbus East boys basketball teams were supposed to get together for their annual crosstown rivalry game on Dec. 18, but that game was postponed after both teams went into quarantine.

Tonight, they’ll get a chance to square off when the Olympians visit the Bull Dogs for an approximate 7:30 p.m. varsity tipoff.

“I know we were excited to be able to reschedule the game and appreciated the (athletics directors) figuring out a date and time to work,” North coach Paul Ferguson said. “It’s been challenging to replay all the postponed games.”

East had been scheduled to host Martinsville tonight, but that game was canceled when Morgan County went into a Red level on the state’s COVID-19 dashboard. Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. is not allowing East and North to play schools in Red counties.

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That allowed the schools to reschedule their game with each other.

“It’s a game that to kids and the community, they look forward to playing every year,” East coach Brent Chitty said. “Most of those guys are pretty good friends. I think it’s good for our community.”

Only parents of players will be allowed into tonight’s game, but the lack of fans isn’t likely to deflate the intensity.

“It’s a rivalry game,” Ferguson said. “You can throw records out the window when it comes to rivalry games. Both teams will be ready to play and excited to compete against each other.”

The Class 4A No. 11 Bull Dogs (5-2) have won five of six since a season-opening loss at 4A No. 2 Carmel. North bounced back from a 72-63 loss at Lawrence Central last week with a 73-54 win against Terre Haute South in Saturday’s Conference Indiana opener.

“We were pleased with our effort against Terre Haute South,” Ferguson said. “It’s always good to open with a win in conference. Our guys hadn’t played in close to three weeks before Lawrence, so we were a little rusty. It was good to start playing games again.”

The Olympians (5-1) picked up their first win of the season Wednesday against Evansville Central before falling to 3A No. 5 Greensburg 72-54 on Saturday.

“I just thought we played real spurty, and the second half, they out-toughed us,” Chitty said. “They got after us.”

East opened the season with a loss against 3A then-No. 1 Silver Creek, and its other three losses all came by single digits.

“I think this year of all years, no matter who you’re playing on any given night, you better be ready to play,” Chitty said. “We’ve both played really good schedules, and with the teams on our schedule, you better be ready to play every night.”

Senior Blake Barker, who has committed to play at Army, leads the Bull Dogs with 21.0 points and 7.0 rebounds a game. Sophomore Cooper Horn averages 12.0 points, and senior point guard Reese Harmon adds 9.2 points and 5.2 assists.

“They’re a very talented team,” Chitty said. “The first thing we need to do is, we need to defend better. We need to defend and rebound. Then offensively, we are going to have to knock down some shots to be able to compete with them.”

Senior Tyler Boyer leads the Olympians with 19.8 points a game. Senior Jacob Pierce averages 13.8 points, and senior Daniel Murphy adds 13.0 points and 5.5 rebounds.

Senior point guard Ben Major, who has missed the past two games with foot injury, is questionable to return tonight for East.

“East has played a very tough schedule, and I think they’re a lot better than their record shows,” Ferguson said. “In the games that we’ve seen, we’ve been impressed with how they shoot 3s and how they push the basketball. Both Lawrence Central and Terre Haute looked to play pretty up-tempo, and we like to play a fast-paced game, so it should be a pretty exciting up-and-down game.”

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Probable starters

Columbus East;Height;Class;PPG;Other stat

G-Ben Sylva;6-0;Soph.;5.7;5.0 reb.

G-Will Rieckers;5-10;Jr.;9.8;2.3 reb.

F-Tyler Boyer;6-3;Sr.;19.8;5.0 reb.

F-Daniel Murphy;6-2;Sr.;13.0;5.5 reb.

F-Jacob Pierce;6-1;Sr.;13.8;3.0 reb.

Columbus North;Height;Class;PPG;Other stat

G-Reese Harmon;5-11;Sr.;9.2;5.2 ast.

G-Blake Barker;6-1;Sr.;21.7;7.0 reb.

G-Cooper Horn;6-2;Soph.;12.0;2.0 stl.

G-Jakub Trusina;6-2;Sr.;7.0;4.2 reb.

F-Max Wilson;6-1;Sr.;7.0;1.5 reb.