By James Pence
For The Republic
MADISON — Columbus East dug itself a double-digit hole in the first half of Saturday’s Hoosier Hills Conference girls basketball contest against Madison.
The Olympians made a huge second-half rally to dig themselves out of that hole to force overtime, but the Cubs prevailed for a 48-46 victory.
The loss is East’s fourth in a row. In the 15 years of East coach Danny Brown’s run at the helm, this was his first loss to Madison.
“When you shoot 5 for 36 in the first half, you deserve to lose,” Brown said. “Madison was better than us. Madison had the better players. Madison was a lot scrappier, a lot tougher and they deserved to win that game.”
Story continues below gallery
The Cubs (8-12, 2-5) led 8-7 until Paige Young converted a basket and a 3-point shot just before the buzzer sounded to give them a 13-7 lead after the first quarter. The Olympians (13-7, 2-4) trailed 20-17, and then Madison closed out the half on a 10-2 to lead 30-19.
East came out shooting in the second half when Whitley Rankin hit a couple baskets from long range and then Britney Ballard converted a triple to help the Olympians cut the deficit to 34-32. To close out the third quarter, Hannah Imel hit a layup as time expired to give the Cubs a 40-36 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
A 3-pointer by Ballard made it 40-39. East took its first lead of the game off a steal and layup by Rankin at the other end to make it 41-40. The Olympians led 44-42 until Jade Nutley hit the game-tying shot for Madison to send the game into overtime.
In the overtime, the Cubs left the door open by hitting only 2 of 4 free throws to lead 46-44. Toward the end of the game, Nutley converted two more key free throws to put the game away.
Ballard led East with 12 points, and Rankin added 11. Kristen Lyons finished with nine points and five blocked shots.