he last time the Columbus East girls basketball team played a game, it went about as badly as it could have.
Playing on their crosstown rival’s home floor on Dec. 17, the Olympians fell into an early hole and never recovered, going down in flames to a 63-21 defeat at Columbus North that might not even have been as competitive as the score indicated.
How does a team rebound from that? According to East head coach Danny Brown, the blowout loss to the Bull Dogs didn’t damage his team’s confidence — or his confidence in his team — nearly as much as one might think.
“It’s just one game,” he stated, “and we came back with really, probably our best practice of the year (the next day). We got after them pretty good and worked on a lot of things that we needed to work on. It was just a good practice.”
The Olympians (5-5) will try to turn strong practices into strong performances when they return to action Monday morning at the Southwestern (Hanover) Rumble on the River.
East opens at 10:50 a.m. against Scottsburg (9-4), and if results against common opponents mean anything, a close game can be expected. The Olympians have beaten two of the teams (North Harrison and Silver Creek) that Scottsburg lost to, while the Warriors topped a Brownstown Central team that edged East by two. Both teams have wins against Floyd Central.
North Harrison, which is ranked eighth in Class 3A and still counts a 62-59 loss at East as the only blemish on its record, looms as a possible second-round opponent on Tuesday should the Olympians prevail in their tourney opener.
“Rumble on the River has always been a big competition for us,” Brown said. “We’ve been in the championship game the last two years against Fishers, and we still have the confidence that we think we can win it.”
For those wondering whether East could possibly have that confidence after such a demoralizing loss, there is precedent — from earlier this season, as it turns out.
On Nov. 17 — exactly one month before the defeat at North — the Olympians were handed an 80-33 beating by Class 3A No. 2 Heritage Christian. They responded in fine fashion, suffering a narrow 42-41 defeat against an East Central team that took Columbus North to the wire.
A week later, East began a three-game winning streak that included the big victory against North Harrison.
Brown is confident his team can bounce back in similar fashion this time. He’s hopeful that the Olympians learned a few things from the North game that will help them to right the ship Monday morning.
“You’ve got to learn something from every game,” he said, “and if they can’t learn something from that game, they’re not paying attention.”
Though East has three sophomores and a freshman starting alongside the team’s lone senior, Audrey Wetzel, it has never used youth as an excuse. Brown is quick to point out that Bedford North Lawrence also had a young roster when it won state championships in 2013 and 2014.
The Olympians’ last outing was a forgettable one, and they’ll have forgotten it as soon as Monday morning’s game tips off.
They won’t be defined by one bad loss — especially not with this many more games still to be played.
“We’ll be fine,” Brown insisted. “Don’t judge us now. Judge us when the season’s over.”