BATESVILLE — Columbus East girls basketball coach Danny Brown was not worried about how his team would perform following a close loss to Columbus North in the Olympians’ most recent game.
In the end, his lack of stress proved prophetic as East pressed its way to a 60-39 victory at Batesville.
“This was the best we’ve played defensively all year,” Brown said. “We were fortunate to get a 21-point win. We didn’t shoot the ball very well.”
On this night, however, the Olympians (8-2) did not need to shoot lights out. Using an aggressive full-court press, they turned the Bulldogs over 19 times in the first half alone. That led to a 34-20 advantage at the half.
When Batesville did get the ball past half court, it had trouble finding the basket. And the Bulldogs had many opportunities, with their offensive rebounding allowing them to get several shots within close range.
The cold shooting continued in the second half. East scored only nine points in the third quarter, but held Batesville to five. After a Sarah Park 3-pointer, the Olympian lead ballooned to 43-23 with 1:44 left in the third quarter. A basket by the Bulldogs cut the lead to 18 heading into the fourth.
Batesville pulled out a press of its own to begin the fourth quarter. Although East had only 11 turnovers on the night, a pair of those started the fourth quarter, giving the Bulldogs some momentum.
Batesville was able to cut the lead to 49-36 on a Carlie Werner 3-pointer, and then again to 52-39 on a bucket by Hattie Westerfeld, but that is as close as they would get.
The Olympian defense, along with Whitley Rankin’s free-throw shooting in the closing minutes, allowed them to pull away and win by a 21-point margin, the largest lead they had all night.
“We learned from the North game, and we are bringing it to this game. We have been working on moving the ball, and we’ve made some adjustments on our press,” Addy Galarno said.
Although East did not shoot the ball particularly well, the adjustments to the press were effective. Batesville turned the ball over 27 times.
Leading the Olympians offensive attack was Rankin, who scored 21 points. She was helped on the offensive end by teammates Kristen Lyons with nine and Sarah Park with eight.