When Audrey Wetzel went to the bench with her third foul late in the first quarter Friday night, Columbus East knew it would be without its top player and lone senior for the rest of the first half.
But after Connersville made a brief run to get back in the game, the Olympians ran away from the Spartans. East finished the first half with a 22-4 run and closed the game on a 44-12 spurt to post a 58-23 victory.
“I’m really proud of them,” Wetzel said. “They know what to do. They have enough experience. Plus, we had just played Connersville in the (Rumble on the River) tournament, and I think they knew they could do it.”
East (8-8), which beat the Spartans 69-40 just 11 days earlier, led 12-2 after one quarter before Connersville (4-15) scored the first seven points of the second period to cut the lead to three. After an exchange of baskets, Riley Meade hit two free throws and a 3-pointer and Addy Galarno scored to make it 21-11.
Following a Spartans 3-pointer, Meade connected on a four-point play. Then, after a Connersville free throw, Britney Ballard, Meade and Galarno hit consecutive 3-pointers and Galarno finished the half with a basket to give the Olympians a 36-15 lead.
“That’s the best I think we’ve moved the basketball all year,” East coach Danny Brown said. “We really shared the ball, made the extra pass to get the open shot and we were knocking them down. That stretch may be the best that we’ve played all year.”
Meade scored all 12 of her points against Connersville’s 2-3 zone in the second quarter when Wetzel was out of the game.
“She does a lot for us offensively and defensively, so we knew we had to pick it up as a team and keep making the extra passes and looking for the open shots, and I was lucky enough that I could hit a few for us,” Meade said.
Wetzel came back in the third quarter and scored nine of her 12 points to help the Olympians extend the lead to 47-19 before the starters gave way to the reserves for the rest of the night.
Galarno finished with 10 points for East. Kristen Lyons grabbed eight rebounds to lead the Olympians to a 33-25 advantage on the boards.
“I thought we did pretty good getting out on the shooters,” Meade said. “I thought we did a good job blocking out and rebounding and keeping the foul situation under control.”
Meanwhile, East limited the Spartans to 6-of-38 shooting from the field, including 2 of 16 from 3-point range.
“I think we did a very good job because we played them over Christmas break, and they scored 40 on us,” Wetzel said. “Tonight, we held them to 23, so that’s something to be proud of.”