Olympians continuing to climb

Columbus East’s Carter Patterson puts up a layup in front of East Central’s Eli Ertel during their sectional semifinal game March 1 at East Central.

The Republic file photo

Columbus East showed signs of progress under first-year coach Perry Nash last boys basketball season, and the Olympians are poised to take another big jump next winter.

Nash had a chance to see his returning players during the June period when teams are permitted to practice and play games. East played close to 30 games in June and posted a winning record.

“We’re still trying to put in some new offenses and new defenses and trying to figure out what our strengths are going to be this year,” Nash said. “I thought we got a lot better individually and collectively.”

The Olympians played in shootouts at University of Indianapolis, Purdue, Indiana Wesleyan, Lawrenceburg, Hammond and the Charlie Hughes Shootout at Carmel and Westfield. At the Charlie Hughes Shootout, East blew out New Castle and Tindley and lost to a Pendleton Heights team that the Olympians had beaten the previous week, and Evansville North.

“The two losses, I thought they were very competitive games,” Nash said. “I thought our kids really played well.”

Mike Wolanin | The Republic Columbus East’s Keaton Lawson shoots a layup during the annual crosstown rivalry game Dec. 15, 2023 at Columbus East.

The Republic file photo

Four starters who return from a 7-17 team played key roles this summer, led by incoming juniors Carter Patterson and Keaton Lawson. Incoming seniors Mason Reeves and Alex Duncan also return, and incoming senior Danny Coriden replaced graduated sharpshooter Jack Fischvogt in the lineup.

East also had incoming sophomore Judah Lewis for part of the summer. Lewis played for Columbus North the first half of last season before transferring and will be limited to JV eligibility until midway through next season.

“Patterson and Lawson did a phenomenal job this summer,” Nash said. “They both got better. Then with Judah, I thought once he got back from his concussion, he really helped us. Alex Duncan really came on this summer, as well as Danny Coriden filling Jack’s role. We needed someone to come in and be that knockdown shooter.”

“Mason’s leadership was absolutely outstanding,” he added. “He was trying to do his best to be a leader last year, but he’s not scared to tell guys things this year. He controls our team, and he leads our team really well.”

Incoming senior Ethan Bumbalough also started some games last winter. Incoming junior Ben Elgood, incoming senior Grayson Watters and incoming sophomore Dallas Dykstra also played with the varsity this summer.

With 20 incoming freshmen, the Olympians fielded two freshmen teams this summer.

“I’m just really excited with not only that, but I’m really ecstatic with our numbers in our whole program going forward,” Nash said.