test BNL interior
By Justin Sokeland
Columbus East’s basketball personality can be summed up in one delicious pun: It’s Chitty-bang-bang.
The Olympians (2-0) are a direct reflection of fiery veteran coach Brent Chitty, now in his third year at East after coaching for 13 seasons at Evansville Central. They are tough, aggressive, and they relentlessly pound the ball into the paint.
Bedford North Lawrence better buckle up for a bruising battle when the Stars (3-1) open their Hoosier Hills Conference run with a road trip to East on Friday night. BNL’s interior, small around slim 6-foot-7 senior center Jackson Ryan, will be probed, tested and punished.
“One thing they do, probably better than any team I’ve watched so far this year, is they’re like an old-school team in that they pound the rock inside,” BNL coach Jamie Hudson said. “It doesn’t matter who posts up, they get it in there and use their strength and their height. They finish strong.
“That’s what they do and they do it really well. I bet 80 percent of their shots are inside the paint. They’ll be really hard to defend. It’s something we’ve been working on, how we’re going to defend the post.”
Just ask New Albany. The Bulldogs surrendered 99 points (in double overtime) and lost at East in the HHC opener on Nov. 30. New Albany coach Jim Shannon called it “the worst defensive performance” he had ever seen.
East’s power players will include 6-6 junior center Bryce Lienhoop (who had 21 points against New Albany and tortured BNL last year with 14 points and 13 rebounds), 6-2 forward Ridge Harris (18 against the Bulldogs) and 6-3 senior Zach Martindale (16 against New Albany).
This is a team East has been grooming since Chitty’s arrival. The roster is littered with seven seniors, featuring guard Nate Rich, who scored 20 second-half points during last year’s 65-57 overtime win over the Stars.
“They’re a phenomenal basketball team,” Hudson said. “They play hard, they’re aggressive, and they play with a lot of emotion – just like their coach does on the sideline. That’s a Coach Chitty trademark. They are very much a reflection of him.”
East, which clipped Heritage Christian 64-62 on Tuesday night, has won only one HHC title in 2003. For the Stars to challenge for the league title, they will have to hold serve for four games at home and escape from hostile territory with a win. Doing that at East would be a huge step. Continue reading