BLOOMINGTON — After playing well for the first three quarters, the Columbus East girls basketball team let its game against host Bloomington South slip away due to one four-minute slump.
Using a 14-2 run in the fourth quarter, the Panthers pulled away to a 71-60 victory in a battle of teams that could see each other again in the sectional.
“They were just killing us on their back cuts and screens getting to the basket,” East coach Danny Brown said of the Panthers’ late spurt. “Then we decided to go to a zone a couple of times, and they burned us with a 3. That put them up six, and from there we were starting to play from behind.”
Brown said his team will have to improve its defensive game to advance in the upcoming tournament.
“Bloomington South likes to play in the 40s and 50s, so putting up 60 against them, we should have won the game,” Brown said. “Saturday we gave up 38 (against Madison), and tonight we gave up 71. It has been that way all year. We are just not consistent enough, and we need to find that quickly because we have only four games to go.”
East (9-10) got off to a hot start pulling out to a 12-4 lead. Audrey Wetzel would do most of the scoring inside, putting up seven points during the stretch. Wetzel would finish with a game-high 23 points.
“As much as we couldn’t stop their cuts through the lane, they could not stop (Wetzel) on the weak-side low,” Brown said. “So she kept getting the ball thinking that they would stop it eventually, but didn’t.”
Brown said the Olympians should have gone to Wetzel even more.
As much as Wetzel was establishing control, Bloomington South had its own offensive rushes. A 10-0 run late in the first quarter allowed Bloomington South to lead 16-14 after a quarter of play.
In the second quarter, East turned to its 3-point shooting. Megan Galle and Addy Galarno would both drain 3-point baskets to spark a 12-5 run and retake the lead 26-21. However, the Panthers, who raised their record to 11-6, would respond again. Racquel Chambers provided a spark off the bench for the Panthers, scoring six of her 11 points during a 13-6. Bloomington South led 34-32 at halftime.
In the fourth quarter, Galarno would provide the Olympians with some energy by draining back-to-back 3-pointers to cut Bloomington South’s lead to 50-49. That would be as close as the Olympians would get as the Panthers would turn to Annie Gillard. Gillard, who was limited to four points the first three quarters, would go on a tear, scoring 10 points during the 14-2 run.
Galarno would finish the game with 10 points, with three 3-pointers. Galle would add 11 points, with three 3-pointers as well.
“She has grown up a lot and is really learning our system real well,” Brown said of Galarno. “She is not afraid of big shots, and she has been knocking them down for us. She has been averaging double figures for us since she has been in the starting lineup. We need that punch of offense from her, and she is a real good defensive player.”