Big comeback lifts East to victory in opener

Columbus East’s Carter Patterson, left, shoots a layup under pressure from Whiteland’s Ethan Edwards during a basketball game at Columbus East High School in Columbus, Ind., Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023.

Mike Wolanin | The Republic

It’s not the start the Columbus East boys basketball team wanted, but the Olympians finished the game with a high note to begin the Perry Nash Era.

East made an incredible fourth quarter comeback in the final four minutes of the game with visiting Whiteland, and the hosts prevailed in the season-opener 57-53 over the Warriors Tuesday night at the Orange Pit.

Pressure defense and balanced scoring in the second half really helped the Olympians. Only two players scored in the first half, but that all changed in the second half, with six players getting into the scoring column.

“I have to thank my coaching staff on that for sure,” Nash said of the team’s defensive effort in the second half. “They knew coming in late we had to turn up that pressure and get in full court. A couple of our guys looked at me, and their comments were, ‘We’ve got to turn it up.’ I’m like, ‘OK, this is the time.’ They were right on cue, and I couldn’t be more happier with our team and our guys.”

East committed several turnovers to begin the second quarter. That allowed Whiteland (1-1) to expand the lead to 20-11. The Warriors had trouble getting the ball in the basket toward the end of the first half, but got a much needed 3-pointer from Akol Akol to make it 24-15 at the half.

“In the first half, we were rushing our offense,” East’s Kadin Lobdell said. “Then, at halftime, we talked about it. We just had to slow it down, and then we’d get open and put it all together,”

The Olympians faced a double digit deficit at 37-25. Keaton Lawson and Carter Patterson scored all 25 of the team’s points from that point. Their teammates finally got involved. Mason Reeves and Jackson Fischvogt combined for three 3-point buckets to get the momentum on their side, trailing only 43-36 heading into the fourth. That set up the fourth quarter rally.

“On offense, we got it to our shooters, and we got it to our finishers,” Patterson said. “We get it into the lane, and we pass it out to our finishers. We had a whole well-rounded out team this year.”

Patterson finished with a game-high 23 points, and Lawson added 14 for East.

“These guys allow me to coach them hard, and they respond well,” Nash said. “In today’s culture, that’s kind of hard, and these guys trust me enough that I can get after them. They know that I love them, and this is a great group of guys.”

Columbus East 57, Whiteland 53


Columbus East;9;6;21;21;—;57

Columbus East (1-0): Mason Reeves 1 0-0 3, Anthony Cowan 0 0-0 0, Elum VanEst 0 0-0 0, Jackson Fischvogt 2 2-4 8, Daniel Coriden 0 0-0 0, Ethan Bumbalough 3 0-0 7, Kadin Lobdell 0 0-0 0, Keaton Lawson 7 0-0 14, Carter Patterson 9 4-9 23. Totals: 22 8-15 57.

3-point goals: Columbus East 5 (Fischvogt 2, Patterson, Reeves, Bumbalough).