On most days, a stout defensive effort that surrenders just 43 points would be enough to get the Columbus East girls basketball team a win.
Saturday afternoon was not most days.
The Olympians went more than 10 minutes without scoring, and that drought proved costly in a 43-35 defeat against Bloomington South.
East came out in a zone defense and stifled the visiting Panthers (10-5) early on. Bloomington South missed its first 10 shots from the field and didn’t score until more than six minutes into the game. The Olympians failed to capitalize on the offensive end, with turnovers preventing the team from getting into a rhythm.
“When you play Bloomington South, you want to try to make it an up-tempo game,” East coach Danny Brown said. “I think we were getting in such a hurry there at the beginning that we made unnecessary passes instead of keeping our dribble alive and penetrating.”
When Addy Galarno fed Audrey Wetzel for an easy layup at the start of the second quarter, Columbus East (7-7) had a 10-4 lead. The home side of the scoreboard didn’t move for quite a while after that, though, and Bloomington South took full advantage.
Three 3-pointers over a span of a minute and 45 seconds gave the Panthers a 15-10 lead with 2:38 to go in the first half, and by the time East’s offensive drought ended midway through the third quarter, Bloomington South had run off 17 consecutive points to build an 11-point lead it never relinquished.
“We were stuck on 10 points, it seemed like forever,” Brown lamented.
True to form, the Olympians fought back, chipping away at the deficit. A pair of foul shots by Esta Morrison with 7:10 remaining in the game made it a 28-25 game, but East couldn’t make enough shots to get over the hump.
Bloomington South was able to hold on by making 11 free throws in the final period.
For Wetzel, who led the Olympians with 11 points in defeat, the second-half comeback bid wasn’t much of a silver lining.
“We’ve got to play all the minutes of the game,” she said, “because we can battle back all we want, but it’s not like we come out with the win.”
Despite the brief second-quarter lapse that allowed the Panthers to hit some big 3-pointers, East was pleased with its defensive performance, which Wetzel called the team’s best of the season.
It’s the offensive end that the Olympians will need to figure out if they hope to make a successful postseason run — one that could conceivably include a rematch with Bloomington South in sectional play.
“You shoot 24 percent, you can’t win,” Brown stated. “And we’ve got good shooters, so we’ve got to figure out something that’s going to work offensively.”