The Batesville Bulldogs were faced with one of their toughest tests of the season Saturday night.
The Columbus East Olympians entered the basketball game with a record of 4-1 with a impressive win against rival and top 10 ranked Columbus North, while their only loss coming against talented New Albany.
The Bulldogs did not play their best basketball at times during the game, but were still in a position to steal a victory.
Unfortunately, breakdowns down the stretch led to an 82-74 East victory.
The Bulldogs struggled defensively to contain the Olympians in the first half. To their credit, coach Aaron Garrett's crew was able to keep pace and entered the second quarter knotted at 18-18.
Back-to-back baskets by Bryan Hoeing and Nathan Longstreth put the Bulldogs on top 22-18 early in the second period. Batesville's final lead of the first half came as a result of two Kassidy Kase free throws to make it 26-25.
The Olympians went on a 7-0 and eventually outscored the Bulldogs 12-4 to take a 37-30 lead into the break. East's Connor Umphress buried a 3-pointer with time expiring in the half to bump the margin to seven points.
The game looked to be getting away from the Bulldogs in third quarter. Columbus East built a 13 point lead on a field goal by Bryce Lienhoop.
But the Bulldogs bounced back and cut the deficit to three points by the end of the third quarter. Wes McKinney scored Batesville's final five points of the quarter, including a conventional three point play to make it 56-53.
The rejuvenated Bulldogs evened the score less than three minutes into the final quarter. Hoeing tied the game at 59-59 with a pair of free throws at the 5:23 mark in the fourth. A Hoeing 3-pointer at 4:41 gave the Bulldogs their first lead since early in the second quarter.
Hoeing continued his dominance on the offensive end and countered a score by East's Parker Chitty.
The Bulldogs took their biggest lead of the fourth quarter on a 3-pointer by Kase. The senior guard put BHS on top 67-64 with just over three minutes to play in the game.
As it happens so many times, the Bulldogs fought hard to get back in the game, but could not maintain the edge.
Columbus East went on a 9-0 run to stretch their lead to 76-69.
Hoeing and McKinney each added late field goals, but East hit free throws down the stretch to keep the lead.
Hoeing finished with a game-high 29 points for the Bulldogs. McKinney was second on the team with 16 followed by Blake Walsman with 12.
Lienhoop and Umphress were too much for the Bulldogs to handle at times. They finished with 24 and 23 points, respectively.
The Bulldogs fall to 5-2 on the season and will next be in action on Wednesday when they open play in the Ripley County tournament against Milan.