Eight days since their previous game, the Columbus East girls basketball team had built up energy as they took the court Wednesday night.
The Olympians stormed out of the gate, sinking five of their seven 3-pointers in the first quarter, en route to a 57-31 victory against Silver Creek.
Facing a 2-3 zone to start the game, East (7-0) rotated the ball around the perimeter, finding open look after open look. Britney Ballard had the hot hand to start for the Olympians, making three 3-point baskets on her way to a team-leading 15 points.
East outscored the Dragons 25-3 in the first quarter.
“It really makes us more confident,” Ballard said of the Olympians hot shooting start. “We get excited and just want to keep playing at that level the whole game. We were missing playing, and we just wanted to get out there and show what we had been working on in practice.”
Hot shooting was accompanied by stingy defense. East’s 2-3 zone and full-court press caused poor shot selection by Silver Creek throughout the night.
“If we are hitting shots, it makes our press work,” East coach Danny Brown said. “Our defense created a little offense for us tonight. We had a lot of energy in that first quarter, and we really moved the ball well and got some good looks. The best thing we might do is share the basketball.”
The Olympians cooled down after the first quarter, outscoring the Dragons only 14-13 in the second period to carry a 39-16 lead into the half. Silver Creek showed signs of life in the second half, switching to a man-to- man defense, causing East some difficult looks offensively.
“Silver Creek is a scrappy team, and they will get after you defensively,” Brown said. “I don’t know if it was a letup. We can’t do that over 32 minutes with the teams on our schedule.”
After allowing the Dragons to open the fourth quarter on a 7-0 run, cutting the lead to 19, the Olympians put the clamps down defensively, not allowing Silver Creek to score over the final 6 minutes, 10 seconds of the game.
“We got what we needed tonight and got everybody playing time,” Brown said. “I think it just got us ready with our press and the way we moved the ball tonight. If we can bottle that first quarter and do that for four quarters we are going to be hard to beat.”
Claire Cunningham scored eight points for East. Addy Galarno, Whitley Rankin, Kaitlyn Dougherty and Sarah Park all chipped in seven.