HANOVER — With Columbus East leading early in the third quarter, coach Danny Brown decided to give his starters a little rest.
The second unit of the Olympians made the most of their opportunity. Their defense and great ball movement on offense was efficient enough to keep Austin at bay as they could not gather any offense. That helped propel the Olympians to a 56-37 girls basketball victory against Austin.
East moves on to play in the semifinals in the Rumble on the River tournament against Scottsburg today at 11:45 a.m.
East sophomore Sarah Park had a career high 12 points. The Olympians outscored the Eagles 25-17 in the third.
“The five of us have been working really hard together,” Park said. “It helps that we are practicing together and have a really good bond. Once we got momentum going, we just kept going and it got better.”
Brown says that stretch in the third quarter was a huge turning point in the game.
“When they came in, it was probably our best quarter we have had all season,” Brown said. “They were moving the ball and looking for each other, and that group won the game for us.”
Brown also said that Park has gained a lot of confidence in her game.
“A lightbulb went off for her over the summer, and she is getting better and better,” Brown said. “She has a lot of potential, and I am really happy with her effort. There is no letting up in effort when it comes to Sarah.”
Early in the game, the starting unit for the Olympians (8-4) moved the ball around to find the open shot. Riley Meade hit a couple of 3s in the first half, and the aggressiveness off the glass gave them plenty of second chance opportunities. They led 21-13 at the half.
Meade and Britney Ballard knocked down 3-point shots to extend the lead early in the third quarter 29-18. Once the bench came into the game, they closed out the third quarter on a 9-2 run to put the game away.
With 11 teams in the tournament, the Olympians came in with a very tough draw having to play a third game in order to make it to the championship match.
“We only had an hour in between (games), so we got to have legs and everyone has got to contribute,” Brown said. “Our bench contributed today and moved the ball very well. This game was a total team effort.”
Ballard finished with 12 points. Lauren Meade picked up eight points off the bench.
In the earlier game against Charlestown, the Olympians trailed 28-27 at halftime but rallied in the second half for a 51-41 victory.
Ballard finished the game with 14 points. Addy Galarno added 12 points and Claire Cunningham had 10. Charlestown’s Samantha Matthews finished with a game-high 18 points. The East defense shut her down in the second half, scoring only two points off a pair of free throws after scoring 16 in the first half.
“Britney and Addy and Whitley (Rankin) did a great job on her in the second half and shut her down,” Brown said. “We knew it was going to be a tough game going in. We told them the first game in any state or holiday tournament is that you got to survive and move on.”