After playing six games in 12 days to close out the regular season, the Columbus East girls basketball team could have used a little rest.
Since the Olympians didn’t get a bye in the Columbus North Sectional, they had to play a first-round game Tuesday night. But in Friday’s semifinals, coach Danny Brown was able to rest his starters for much of a 55-28 victory against Bloomington North.
That, East hopes, will lead to a fresher team when it plays the host Bull Dogs in today’s 7 p.m. championship game.
“We felt like if we got off to a good start, we could give our starters a rest,” Brown said. “We played a lot of games in January. (Friday) was the type of game where we could have the lead and give them some rest.”
The Olympians (15-11) led 41-14 after three quarters. None of the starters played in the final period.
That rest was made possible by a defensive effort that held an opponent under 30 points for the second consecutive game. East beat Bloomington South 33-28 in the opening round Tuesday.
Friday, the Olympians jumped out to leads 15-2 and 21-4 against the Cougars (5-18). The advantage was 23-8 at halftime.
“We could have had some more energy,” said Kristen Lyons, who scored all six of her points in the first quarter. “At practice (Thursday), there wasn’t a ton of energy, and it definitely showed on the court. But we got through it, and we kept fighting, and we’re looking forward to (tonight). We’re ready, and we’re looking forward to the opportunity.”
Britney Ballard, Addy Galarno and Whitley Rankin — who had combined to score only three points in the first half — combined for all 18 of East’s points in the third quarter. The Olympians outscored Bloomington North 18-6 in the period to pull away.
“We were kind of slacking the first half,” said Galarno, who led all scorers with 10 points. “We didn’t come out with great energy, but we really picked up the second half. Getting a big win tonight really gave us a boost of confidence to come in (to the final) strong and confident.”
Lyons and Claire Cunningham each grabbed five rebounds to lead East to a 31-25 advantage on the boards. Ballard finished with eight points. Rankin added seven; and Lyons, Cunningham, and Sarah Park all had six.
Eleven of the 12 Olympians to suit up scored at least two points.
“The main thing is to give the kids a chance to play in a sectional game,” Brown said. “That was important. You always like to see that because it doesn’t always happen.”