Seymour struggles offensively against Columbus East

For The Tribune

The Columbus East boys basketball team got off to a good start against Seymour by jumping out to an early 13-1 lead. The Olympians settled into a comfort zone from that point forward, coasting to a 55-38 Hoosier Hills Conference win Saturday.

The good start by the Olympians (6-6, 1-1) was executed through patience and an aggressive defense that did not allow the Owls a field goal in the first quarter.

“We came out with a different kind of defense, and our guys never panicked,” East coach Brent Chitty said. “Once we got a feel for things, our guys did a terrific job. Tanner McFall and Jonathan Foster did a great job moving and attacking and getting guys involved.”

With Foster and McFall attacking the basket, it opened up scoring opportunities for Zach Sanders and Kevin Williams, and they made the most of them. The duo combined for 32 of the team’s 55 points.

Sanders said that the communication on defense was key.

“Our focus was on our help side defense because (Friday against Bloomington South) it just was not there,” said Sanders, who finished with a game-high 18 points. “We focused on rotating and talking a lot, and that made things a lot better.”

Seymour had trouble getting an offensive spark during the game. A Tiller Cummings basket cut the Olympians’ lead to 19-11, but a critical mistake came right at the halftime buzzer when Sanders was fouled on a 3-point attempt as time expired. He converted all three free throws to push the lead back into double digits at 24-13.

The Owls were unable to string together consecutive baskets in the second half.

“Give East credit, they were good defensively,” Seymour coach Kyle Clough said. “We were poor offensively and we did not move the basketball very well.

“They were much tougher than we were tonight. They were more physical and more determined.”

Chitty kept his team aggressive to start out the second half. After both teams exchanged some baskets, McFall and Sanders hit back to back 3-pointers to make it 43-27.

The Olympians started the fourth quarter on a 9-3 run, after which Chitty went to his bench to finish out the game.

“We came out with a lot of fire and stayed positive, and it was a great win for us,” Sanders said.

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James Pence is a sports correspondent for The Republic.