Resilient Olympians weather storm

MADISON — On a night when their coach hit a new milestone, patience was a virtue for the Columbus East girls basketball team in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s 56-44 Hoosier Hills conference win against Madison.

Madison picked up some momentum to start the fourth quarter, cutting the Columbus East edge to 47-43. On offense, the Olympians had great ball movement that chewed up nearly 30 seconds of the clock before finding Kristen Lyons.

On another offensive series, the Olympians (12-9, 4-3) bled almost a minute off the clock until Lyons found the opening to make the back-door pass to Britney Ballard, who made the layup for a 51-43 lead.

The Olympians then locked down on defense and the Cubs were unable to get a field goal for the rest of the day.

“They started pressing us, and we made that extra pass every time and got a shot,” said East senior Audrey Wetzel, who finished with a game-high 27 points. “They could not find a way to stop us because we broke through their press every single time.”

The East victory also was a big night for coach Danny Brown, who picked up his 200th victory in his 13th season coaching at East.

Brown said he is thankful for everyone that has played a part in his great success.

“It’s been great having the support of everyone at East, and an honor being able to coach this long and having great players now and over the years,” he said. “200 wins from all that, and hopefully, we’ve got a couple more left in us.”

Brown then added, “I am also so happy for (assistant coach Willie) Humes coming back here having coached (at Madison) for three years and coming back to our program. I am happy for the girls that we got this win for him, too.”

Wetzel said she is thankful to have Brown as her coach.

“He has been amazing. All of us have nothing but positive things to say about him,” she said. “He’s pretty laid-back, and we respond well to that. He knows how to talk to us and get us through tough situations. He has always been supportive of all of us. He is never negative, and that means a lot.”

Fatigue may have shown early on for the Olympians as they played their fifth game in 10 days, but they managed a way to overcome it, using a strong fourth quarter to get their fourth win during that stretch.

“Five games in 10 days is tough on anybody,” Brown said. “To come out with four wins against quality opponents says a lot about how we are playing at this time of year.”

Ballard added 14 points for East, which finishes the regular season this week with a home date against Southport and a road trip to Martinsville.