SHELBYVILLE — Columbus East put on an offensive clinic early against host Southwestern on Tuesday and raced away to its best performance of the season.
The Olympians, who led 68-17 by halftime, routed the Spartans 100-45. East junior Audrey Wetzel led East with 30 points and 12 rebounds.
Southwestern, a powerhouse just a year ago in Class A, are in a rebuilding phase after losing several key players to graduation.
“I know Southwestern has been a strong girls basketball program the past few years,” East girls coach Danny Brown said. “They lost most of their players, especially their top two players in (Annie) Thomas and (Oda) Shackleford, but it didn’t change our game plan or tactic going in.
“I thought the first half tonight was probably the best that we’ve played all year. We moved the ball extremely well, we attacked and shared the basketball and got everyone on the team involved. Our pressure defense really got to them and kind of put the game away by halftime.”
In the second half, with the outcome already decided, Brown took advantage of the opportunity to give his freshmen valuable playing experience. Kristen Lyons and Britney Ballard enjoyed the playing opportunity to put up career highs of 14 and 13 points, respectively.
“We just kept pushing the ball forward to get open shots,” Ballard said. “They played a zone defense on us so we got a lot of open looks on the perimeter.”
“We had great chemistry tonight,” Lyons said. “We communicated very well, and our point guards saw the floor really well and knew where to find us.”
Brown was pleased to see how well his freshmen performed in extended playing time.
“Britney and Kristen both led the way for us this evening,” Brown said. “In addition to Kristen’s career high in points, she also had nine rebounds and six blocks, so Kristen did a heck of a job.”
Of course, East has its regular stars as well.
“In a game like this, it is hard to overlook a performance like Audrey (Wetzel) had in very limited playing time. But I was glad everyone got a chance to play and it will only help as the season goes along.”
Besides Wetzel, Abigail Wilson would add 15 points.
East also survived a scare in the first quarter. Starter Megan Galle got hit on the nose as she was shooting the ball and had to come out momentarily. Galle would sit out the rest of the quarter but would come back to play later in the game.
“She will be just fine,” Brown said. “She came in later and was mad she couldn’t shoot her two free throws on the foul. It’s only minor and nothing serious.”