HANOVER — Columbus East took the lead at the end of the third quarter with the momentum on their side in Saturday’s championship game against North Harrison in the Rumble on the River Tournament at Southwestern Hanover.
It only took a couple of quick buckets by North Harrison to shatter the hopes of the Olympians.
Two 3-pointers by the Cats turned the momentum back to their side. They converted free-throws down the stretch to end the Olympians chances at a title repeat by beating the Olympians 48-41 for the first time in six tries. The Olympians have held a five game winning streak against the Cats until Saturday.
“We stayed with them in a championship game between two quality teams and I can’t complain too much that we lost against a team that was the state runner up two years in a row,” East coach Danny Brown said. “We had the lead late but we just couldn’t hang on.”
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The Olympians (11-3) didn’t go away empty handed. East seniors Britney Ballard and Addy Galarno were named to the All-Tournament Team following the conclusion of the game. They were the only team in the 10-team field to have two players on the team. Ballard, Galarno, and fellow senior Kristen Lyons played their final Rumble on the River game.
“It’s great and it is always a lot of fun coming down here,” Ballard said.
“We always want to get as far as we can in this tournament and we did pretty well this year.”
North Harrison’s Lilly Hatton was named the tournament’s most valuble player.
Hatton was a force in the first half for East to contain. She scored 21 of the Cats 25 first half points to give them a 25-23 lead. Hatton was contained in the second half but still finished with a game-high 23 points.
“(Hatton) lit us up in the first half, and she played like an All-American in the first half,” Brown said. “We shut her down, but (Cali) Nolot got loose in the corner a couple times and that was the ball game.”
East trailed 31-27 before Whitley Rankin drained a 3-pointer and made one of two free throws to tie the game at 31. Nolot scored on a 2-point jumper, but Rankin came back with her second 3-pointer to give East the 34-33 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
After Claire Cunningham opened the fourth quarter with a layup to extend the lead to 36-33, Hallie Hinton and Nolot hit two consecutive 3-points to give the Cats (14-1) the lead for good.
East won 46-39 in the earlier game against Charlestown. Ballard led the way with 12 points and Lyons added 10 for the Olympians.
East now has a tough January schedule ahead of them with a grueling stretch of games against Hoosier Hills Conference opponents Seymour, Bedford North Lawrence and New Albany.
“We got to tweak a thing here or two, but we’re fine,” Brown said. “Going into the new year 11-3, we’re pretty happy with our team. These games will only make us better for the sectional.”