A wild finish ensued in Saturday’s Hoosier Hills conference girls basketball game between Columbus East and New Albany.
With East holding on to a 45-44 lead and the ball, Olympians sophomore Addy Galarno was intentionally fouled by the Bulldogs’ Ashley Lyninger with 14 seconds left in the game. Galarno couldn’t convert the two free throws, but the Olympians maintained possession.
Audrey Wetzel was fouled next, and the senior stayed cool under pressure to sink both foul shots. The East defense then slammed the door shut on the Bulldogs, who failed to get a shot off before the final buzzer, and the Olympians grabbed an emotional 47-44 victory, their third win in a row.
“Being the only senior, I think they look for me to be able to take the game over like that,” said Wetzel, who finished with 15 points. “There was a lot of pressure on me because I needed to put the game away like I did.”
Recently, East coach Danny Brown inserted sophomore Riley Meade into the starting lineup. The strategy has paying off, and on Saturday it created a tough matchup problem for the Bulldogs defense early in the game as East jumped out to an early 9-4 lead.
“Riley has always been a tough matchup for other teams when the center is guarding high post,” Brown said. “She can step out there and knock it down and if they get out on her, then it opens things up inside for us.”
The Olympians (10-8, 2-2) also forced several turnovers defensively while not allowing a Bulldogs field goal in the second quarter.
New Albany came back hit and back-to-back shots to grab a 23-22 lead to start the third quarter. Meade, who has been coming up with big shots all season, quickly erased their momentum by draining a 3-pointer that sparked a 9-0 run for the Olympians. However, the Bulldogs responded by scoring the final nine points of the quarter to go ahead 32-31.
Once New Albany scored the first five points of the fourth quarter, Brown got has starters back into the lineup. They delivered and went off on a 10-2 run, capped off by another 3-pointer from Meade, to go ahead 41-39.
Meade, who finished with 14 points, has gained Brown’s confidence from outside.
“Coach was telling me, ‘Riley if you have a shot take it because we could use one,’” Meade said. “It was great to hit some for them because our offense really needed it to help us finish the game.”
The future is looking very bright for the Olympians, with four sophomores in the starting lineup that went up against a Bulldogs lineup loaded with seniors and juniors.
“This is just a great win for us and we played all 32 minutes,” Wetzel said. “We have a lot of momentum and we have been improving a lot, and we can only go up from here.”