Bull Dogs pull away from Perry Meridian, extend win streak to 5

Early in the second quarter Saturday afternoon, Columbus North was clinging to a three-point lead against Perry Meridian, and leading scorer Sam King had gone to the bench with his second foul.

But with the 6-foot-8 King out of the game for the rest of the first half, the Bull Dogs didn’t wilt. They actually built onto the lead and ended up breaking the game open on their way to their fifth consecutive win, a 60-33 victory.

“That was a key moment in the game right there because Sam took some tough calls and had to sit, and I was really pleased to see how our bench was able to extend that lead,” North coach Paul Ferguson said. “I thought guys like Damon Edwards and Rhett Harmon came off our bench and gave us some really important minutes. Anytime you start to develop a little more bench depth, you’re really excited about that as a coach.”

The Bull Dogs (11-5) led 19-16 midway through the second quarter when they went on a 16-0 run that carried into the first four minutes of the third period. Two Cooper Horn baskets sandwiched around a Rhett Harmon 3-pointer gave North a 26-16 lead at halftime.

“It’s very tough when Sam goes out of the game because we lose so much size,” Horn said. “We don’t have that much size off the bench, but our guys were fighting like crazy and getting the ball out in transition. I was able to get easy looks at the basket there late in that second quarter. Just our defensive intensity, and guys off the bench came on in that 7-0 run and hit some big shots. The energy off the bench tonight was very solid.”

That momentum carried over into the second half for the Bull Dogs. Baskets from King and Horn, a 3-pointer from King and a basket by Luke Harmon pushed the lead to 35-16 at the midway point of the third period.

The Falcons (5-9) came back with a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 12, but a 3-pointer by Carson Dibble and a three-point play from Ty Ferguson extended the lead back to 41-23 going into the fourth quarter.

“Perry is a hard team to play against,” Paul Ferguson said. “We knew that we could score in spurts. Perry plays a very slow-down style, and they want to keep the score down in the high 30s, low 40s. We kept telling our guys, ‘Wait for your spurt. It’s going to come,’ and I thought those were key moments at the end of the first half, beginning of the second half where we blew that game open a little bit. I even told our guys at halftime, a 10-point lead against Perry is a little bit like and 18-point lead just because of how slow they play.”

King led North with 14 points and eight rebounds. Horn finished with 13 points, and Rhett Harmon had 12 on 4-of-5 shooting from 3-point range. The Bull Dogs outrebounded Perry Meridian 30-16 committed only six turnovers.

“I just think we fed off of energy from our other teammates,” King said. “We were able to get a couple of other guys going. They would cut to the rim and make some open spaces. Just our transition game was working for us. We were playing really well down the court, especially right after we’d get a steal with our ball press.”

All five of the wins during North’s current streak have come by double digits, and the Bull Dogs will look to build on that when they travel to Southport for a key Conference Indiana battle on Friday.

“We’ve been playing well,” Paul Ferguson said. “I think for us, it’s not as much about the wins as just trying to get a little bit better each time we play. I’m fortunate to have a lot of guys that are high-IQ basketball players, and they study the game, and the watch film and they learn and grow, and that’s really the key thing. We’ll watch this film, and we’ll grow from it and we’ll be a little bit better next week when we go out against Southport.”