Olympians start strong, cruise in tourney finale

HANOVER — Lesson learned.

There was no slow start for the Columbus East girls’ basketball team, which jumped out a quick 26-2 lead and never looked back en route to an 82-26 rout of tournament host Southwestern (Hanover) in the Rumble on the River consolation round Tuesday.

The Olympians (7-6) had another strong performance from star senior Audrey Wetzel, who poured in a game-high 25 points, 19 of those coming in the first half.

Wetzel said it was extremely important to control the game from the start.

“We needed to have a game where we can go out there and play how we want to play and not worry about having a tight score,” she said.

After the championship game concluded, Wetzel was named to the all-tournament team. (**WILL VERIFY LATER TONIGHT***)

“Audrey just had an outstanding tournament,” East coach Danny Brown said. “Britney (Ballard) and Addy (Galarno) also had great games. Those three played really well down here.”

Up 42-11 at halftime, the Olympians put the game out of reach as they outscored the Rebels 20-5 in the third quarter. Brown then turned to the reserves to finish out the game, and they made the most out of their opportunity. Tayler Brewer finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds, Tiara Taylor added six points and Sarah Park, a freshman playing in her first varsity game, also contributed with two points.

“It’s great seeing them being able to play because they are great players and deserved the extra time,” Galarno said. “It is going to really help their game develop.”

All 13 girls that played in the contest for the Olympians scored.

“All these girls had great moments,” Brown said. “It is very hard to single anyone out they all played well but Tayler was great getting a double-double with the short time she was in there.”

When asked about Park, Brown gave the stamp of approval.

“Sarah is going to be a good player for this program,” he said. “She plays with a lot of confidence. She plays with a lot of effort and hustle, and that goes a long way.”

Esta Morrison finished with eight points. Ballard and Galarno each had seven.

The Olympians’ road forward will not be easy, with a tough schedule ahead in the final month of the regular season, but there were a lot of lessons learned from this tournament experience — including a big one from Monday’s opening-round overtime loss to Scottsburg.

“We can only go up from here, but have a tough game to be ready for Saturday (against Bloomington South),” Wetzel said. “The biggest lesson learned was the way we came out against Scottsburg. If we were ready to play from the start, we could have been in the championship game. We just had no effort.

“The bottom line is we have to be ready to play once the ball is tipped.”