Danny Brown has been coaching basketball for 30 years, and never before had one of his teams did what the Columbus East girls did this summer.
They went undefeated.
The Olympians posted a record of 17-0 in June, when Indiana high school basketball coaches were allowed to work with their teams. They went 5-0 to win the Seymour Shootout, then went 12-0 to capture first place at the Vincennes Camp.
East played mostly schools from Indiana but also some from Illinois and Kentucky.
“We’ve been working on some things and showed a lot of improvement,” Brown said. “We’re looking forward to August and September.”
Brown took nine players to the tournaments. That includes the returning starting five of incoming seniors Britney Ballard, Addy Galarno and Kristen Lyons, junior Claire Cunningham and sophomore Whitley Rankin.
Incoming junior Sarah Park and sophomore Katie Dougherty saw varsity action last season. New to the varsity are junior Nicole Reisinger and sophomore Olivia Linnemann.
“The starting five really played well and meshed together and had good team chemistry,” Brown said. “Our three seniors kind of led the way. Their leadership and experience really helped the young kids a lot.”
The Olympians are coming off a 15-12 season, their best in five years. They fell to Columbus North 43-41 in the sectional final, their closest game against the Bull Dogs during an 11-game losing streak that dates back to the 2011-12 season.
The North girls, which went 21-8 and won a regional title last season, didn’t have quite as strong a summer as they’ve had the past few years. The Bull Dogs’ varsity went 12-7, while the JV went 12-3 and two freshman teams went 15-4 and 7-11.
North’s varsity played mainly in one-day events. It went 0-3 at North Central, 1-1 at Ben Davis, 3-0 at Ball State, 2-1 at Westfield, 4-1 at University of Southern Indiana and 2-1 at Eastern Illinois.
“When we do what we’re trying to do, we can be really good,” North coach Pat McKee said. “We saw flashes of the good stuff, but we still have to get a lot better. When we lost, we generally lost to teams that were pretty good, and they played better than us. Our goal is to be good late January and February. We feel like if we do what we discussed, we can be really good when it matters in February.”
McKee typically used 10 to 12 players in the varsity contests. That includes returning starters in incoming senior Kenzie Patberg and sophomore Tessa Lomax.
Other returning varsity players are incoming seniors Jenna Borger, Liz Tynan, Kat Norman and Kelsey Patberg; junior Nadia Lomax and sophomores Annie Anderson, Chelsi Giesige, Sierra Norman and Kaylin Bates. Norman missed most of last season, and Kelsey Patberg missed all of last season while recovering from torn ACLs.
Incoming freshman point guard Alexa McKinley also saw extensive action with the varsity last month.
“We looked at this month as a month of development,” McKee said. “We played a lot of kids. We didn’t stick to a super-tight rotation. We have some pieces, and we have some kids that if they really work hard, we should be fine. By contrast, if we think we are not going to show up and work hard, it will not be fun.”
Head coach: Danny Brown
Last year’s record: 15-12
Returning starters: 5 (Britney Ballard, Addy Galarno, Kristen Lyons, Claire Cunningham, Whitley Rankin)
Head coach: Pat McKee
Last year’s record: 21-8
Returning starters: 2 (Kenzie Patberg, Tessa Lomax)