Olympians overcome slow start, knock off Trojans

ST. LEON — The one-hour bus ride to East Central may have played a factor into Columbus East’s slow start Thursday night.

Fortunately for the Olympians, their play over the final three quarters made the long bus ride home much sweeter.

The Olympians could not find a bucket for much of the first quarter, allowing the Trojans to score 14 consecutive points to open the game.

Coach Danny Brown said his team’s scoring problems took away their ability to implement their full-court press, but they got their offense rolling in the remaining three quarters to claim the 56-44 win.

“We thought that we could wear them down eventually,” Brown said. “Once we got going, we made a heck of a comeback, and I’m really proud of the second-half effort. We talked about playing 32 minutes. Maybe the first four weren’t too good, but the last 28 were really good.”

The Olympians (3-0) ended the first quarter trailing 17-5 after scoring only one field goal in the first eight minutes. They got hot from deep, hitting three 3-pointers in the second quarter. They ended the night with nine 3-pointers and eight 2-point baskets.

The full-court press held East Central (3-2) to eight second-quarter points and cut the lead to 25-19 by halftime. Brown called an early timeout at the start of the third quarter that helped the Olympians change the course of the game after the Trojans started the half on a 5-0 run to push the lead back to 11.

Addy Galarno, who scored a game-high 25 points, hit  back-to-back 3-pointers, followed by a Britney Ballard 3-point shot out of the timeout to cut the lead to three.

“Those three 3-pointers back-to-back were really the key to the game,” Galarno said. “Those were the (three) possessions that really changed the whole mood of the game. Right when we hit those, we knew that we had this game.”

Galarno hit four 3-pointers and made seven of her eight free throws. Her 12-point third quarter helped the Olympians take a one-point lead heading into the fourth.

The 3-point shooting continued with to start the final quarter with another sequence of three consecutive 3-pointers during a 16-0 run.

“It’s just a never-say-die attitude with an experienced team,” Brown said. “Maybe in the past with a not so experienced team, we would have lost this game. We have leadership from our seniors, and we just played steady ball.”

Both Ballard and Whitley Rankin hit a pair of timely 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to help hold off the Trojans.

Ballard finished with 14 points, and Rankin added seven. Kristen Lyons led the Olympians with nine rebounds.

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Frank Bonner is a sports writer for The Republic. He can be reached at fbonner@therepublic.com or 812-379-5632.