GREENSBURG — Columbus East had a great start to the game and jumped out to a 29-22 lead late in the second quarter.
Class 3A No. 8 Greensburg came crawling back to end the half on an 11-0 run, capped off by a Kyra Whitaker 3-point half-court heave at the buzzer. The buzzer-beating shot by the Pirates came into play at the end of the game when the Olympians were sent home with a 63-60 loss.
With 1.2 seconds left in the first half, the inbounds pass came to Whitaker, who took the ball upcourt before the delivering the attempt.
“We should be playing overtime,” East coach Danny Brown said. “It is hard to convince me that a catch, dribble a couple of times, and then shoot in that amount of time. That was the difference in the game.”
The Olympians (11-7) did not let the half-court shot get to them in the second half. They stood tough and showed a lot of heart and adversity to mount a serious fourth quarter charge. Trailing 54-48, Claire Cunningham scored basket. Kristen Lyons then grabbed a steal and went coast to coast for the lay-in to cut the lead to 54-52.
East ran into foul trouble in the first half, and it caught up to the Olympians late in the game. Greensburg was able to hit their free throws down the stretch.
The game was extended, though, when the Pirates fouled Britney Ballard on a 3-point attempt. She converted all three free throws to make it 59-57. Greensburg hit four straight free throws before Lauren Meade hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“We just executed with the ball and found the open shot,” Cunningham, who finished with 16 points. “They kept answering back to our big shots, and we had to keep going.”
Ballard led East with 17 points. Whitley Rankin was in the starting lineup for the first time and finished with nine points.
“We have fought all year, and they did a great job with what we have,” Brown said. “I have nothing negative to say about tonight. They played hard and played aggressive. I am proud of the effort tonight. Whitley played the whole game-she did great and everyone did. Our bench gave us a good effort.”