The task was a tall one.
Columbus East was playing two-time defending Class 4A state champion and top-ranked Bedford North Lawrence, and Addy Galarno volunteered to guard one of the Stars’ standout post players, Jenna Allen.
Allen is 6-foot-3. Galarno is 5-8. But Galarno, a freshman, helped keep the Michigan State recruit to 12 points.
“She’s a tough-minded kid,” East coach Danny Brown said of Galarno. “She’s so tough mentally and physically that it makes her a good defensive player. She has a lot of basketball awareness about her. She doesn’t like to lose, whether it’s a game or whether it’s one-on-one with who she’s guarding, she’s just a battler.”
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That’s one of the reasons Brown moved Galarno into the starting lineup a few games ago. She hasn’t disappointed. In one four-game stretch, she made 11 3-pointers and averaged nearly 10 points a game.
“She’s basically thrived in the starting lineup,” Brown said. “She’s been a big part of what we’ve done this year, and she’s going to be a big part of what we do in the future.”
“I’m very surprised,” Galarno said. “When I came in, I was not expecting to play varsity. I was expecting to play freshman or JV. I was really happy the day that he told me that I’d be starting because I worked so hard. I can’t thank him enough for letting me have the opportunity to start.”
Brown hasn’t been surprised with Galarno’s production.
“I saw her in middle school, and she could knock down a 3 even then,” Brown said. “I could see that she was someone we wanted to keep an eye on that could possibly play varsity. She proved that in the summer and has gotten better and better as the season has gone on. She’s always had the ability, and she’s a hard worker. Her shooting confidence is growing and growing.”
“All of the upperclassmen have helped me develop my game, and over the season, I feel like I’ve improved,” Galarno said. “I’ve always worked so hard on defense, and this season I’ve tried to improve my offense as much as I could. All the shooting I’ve done, I feel like that’s improved a lot since last year.”
Galarno is one of six freshman on the Olympians’ varsity roster and one of three who sees extensive action. One of the others, Britney Ballard, is the backup point guard.
“You have to figure Britney and Addy look to be the backcourt duo for the next three years, I hope,” Brown said.
Kristen Lyons, a 6-2 center, is the other freshman to play regular minutes.
“The six freshman, we always play well together, so the future is bright for all of us,” Galarno said.
“They’ve gained so much valuable experience this year,” Brown said. “That’s key, and getting them the chance to experience the sectional coming up will make them even more battle-tested going into next season. But they’ve been able to handle anything we’ve given them or what the other teams have thrown at them. They’ve all had their moments.”
Galarno comes from an athletic family. Her sister Ashton swam at East and is now a senior at Coastal Carolina. Her brother Logan played on the Olympians’ state championship team in 2013 and is now a freshman football player at Thomas More.
Addy Galarno played on the varsity soccer team in the fall. She said she doesn’t have a favorite sport between soccer and basketball.
“I guess it depends on which season I’m in because I like both a lot,” Addy Galarno said. “I don’t think I could ever not play either sport. I think I would like to play one of them in college.”
For the moment, Addy is focused on this week’s Shelbyville Sectional. The Olympians (12-11) drew a first-round bye and play the winner of tonight’s Bloomington South-Bloomington North game in Friday’s semifinals. A win would put East in the finals, likely against 4A No. 2 Columbus North.
“Our goal is to make it to the sectional championship because anything can happen,” Galarno said. “In practice, we’ve been working really hard on developing an offense that will work. We’ve been trying to play together more as a team, and that’s been working well that last few games. We’re hoping to keep that going.”
6 p.m.: Shelbyville vs. East Central
7:30 p.m.: Bloomington North vs. Bloomington South
6 p.m.: Columbus North vs. Shelbyville-East Central winner
7:30 p.m.: Columbus East vs. Bloomington North-Bloomington South winner
7:30 p.m.: Championship