As the clock wound down Tuesday in Columbus East’s girls basketball win against Southport, Audrey Wetzel got a little emotional.
The Olympians’ lone senior was playing in her final game in the Orange Pit on senior night, and it was one she likely won’t forget. Wetzel scored 21 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead East to a 63-50 victory.
“I love playing in the Orange Pit, and it’s crazy that was my last time ever,” Wetzel said. “Whenever it was the last minute of the fourth quarter, I was just thinking ‘Oh my gosh, I have one minute left ever playing here.’ So it’s obviously emotional, but I’m going to go play in college, but I’ll miss everything about it here.”
Wetzel, who is headed to St. Francis, led a spirited Olympians effort from the beginning of the game.
“I did not want to go home tonight with a loss,” Wetzel said. “I wouldn’t have slept all night. But I think our team came together. We were ready to play, and we had so much energy in the beginning. I think it carried out the whole game.”
Wetzel’s 21 points moved her within eight of Allyson Bunch for fourth place on East’s all-time scoring list.
“This is a big win on senior night for Audrey,” East coach Danny Brown said. “She ended her home career on an excellent note. She’s been our leader all year, and the kids responded well.”
The Olympians (13-9) jumped out to a 29-12 lead with three minutes left in the first half. The Cardinals (11-11) got back to within 34-22 at halftime and cut the lead to 10 three times in the third quarter.
Addy Galarno then scored seven points an an 11-2 East run that gave the Olympians their biggest lead at 50-31 with 2:23 left in the third quarter.
Galarno finished with 16 points. Kristen Lyons added nine points and eight rebounds.
“The key tonight was we got off to a good start and just kept the momentum going from there,” Brown said. “We got a couple good steals off of our press. Riley Meade hit a couple big shots, and I thought Kristen Lyons played really well the first half and really hustled for us. Our guards controlled the action, and Audrey just played a great game.”
The win was the sixth in seven games for East, which closes the regular season Thursday at Martinsville and opens sectional play Tuesday against Shelbyville at Bloomington North.
“We feel good about it, but we have some tough games coming up that we’re going to have to prepare for,” Wetzel said. “So we have to focus on the games coming up.”