The most recent time the girls basketball sectional was played at East Central, Columbus East and Columbus North met in the championship game.
That was Feb. 12, 2011. The Olympians’ Mikala Lomax hit a 3-pointer to send the game into overtime, and East won 61-52. The next week, the Olympians lost 53-52 to Jeffersonville, which went on to win the Class 4A state title.
Since then, the East-North rivalry has been particularly one-sided. The Bull Dogs have beaten the Olympians 12 consecutive times over the past seven years, the first 10 of those coming by at least 19 points.
But the past two East-North matchups have been extremely close. The Bull Dogs eeked out a 43-41 win in last year’s sectional final and a 57-54 victory Dec. 14. Both of those games were played at North.
Tonight, the two teams will meet again, this time back at East Central, where the Olympians last beat their archrivals.
“It’s a rivalry game,” North coach Pat McKee said. “There’s not much the coaches have to say to get the players motivated. They’re certainly aware of the rivalry, and they want to put their best foot forward.”
East (15-9) has all five starters back from last year’s team that gave the Bull Dogs all they could handle in last year’s sectional final. Olympians coach Danny Brown noted that this will be the group’s fifth game together in the sectional and considers that experience important.
But Brown isn’t dwelling on just trying to clear the North hurdle.
“I’m just worried about us and what we do,” Brown said. “We just have to concentrate on playing the way we know how to play, and that’s sharing the basketball. Playing good defense is important.”
East did plenty of that in its sectional opener Tuesday. The Olympians jumped out to a 14-0 lead on their way to a 58-24 rout of Shelbyville.
All 10 East players who saw action got into the scoring column.
“I thought it was important to play together, and I thought we did that for the most part,” Brown said. “We shared the basketball and got everybody in and got them some sectional experience. I think that’s important going forward.”
The Bull Dogs (17-6), meanwhile, haven’t played since a 47-37 win against Roncalli on Jan. 25. North received a first-round bye in the sectional.
Three of the Bull Dogs’ six losses have been against ranked teams, and two others have come in overtime.
“I think overall, we’ve played pretty well, but we still have some inconsistencies that need cleaned up,” McKee said. “Hopefully, we’ll clean up those inconsistencies. Having a few days to not push them super hard hopefully will be helpful and allow us to get our legs back a little bit, and bring good energy to the game.”
The Olympians had lost six of their last seven prior to Tuesday’s win. They also have three losses against ranked teams and one in overtime.
“You learn something from each game,” Brown said. “We played some tough competition down the stretch, and we hope to keep the momentum going.”
Senior Jenna Borger leads North with 11.6 points a game, while sophomore Tessa Lomax adds 7.8 points and 8.1 rebounds. Senior floor general Kenzie Patberg averages 3.5 assists and 2.0 steals.
East is led by its senior trio of Addy Galarno (12.3 ppg), Britney Ballard (10.3 ppg, 3.6 apg) and Kristen Lyons (8.4 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2.9 bpg).
“They’ve had a good season overall, and they certainly have some very good players,” McKee said of East.
6 p.m.: Columbus East (15-9) vs. Columbus North (16-7)
7:30 p.m.: East Central (15-9) vs. Bloomington North (4-18)
7 p.m.: Championship
Probable starters for East-North game
G;Britney Ballard;5-11;Sr.;10.3;3.6 apg
G;Addy Galarno;5-9;Sr.;12.3;1.9 spg
G;Whitley Rankin;5-4;Soph.;8.1;2.3 apg
F;Claire Cunningham;6-1;Jr.;6.0;7.1 rpg
F;Kristen Lyons;6-2;Sr.;8.4;7.5 rpg
G;Kenzie Patberg;5-6;Sr;6.1;3.5 apg
G;Jenna Borger;5-10;Sr.;11.6;4.4 rpg
G;Annie Anderson;5-6;Soph;7.6; 2.2 apg
F;Liz Tynan;5-9;Sr;5.9; 3.7 rpg
F;Tessa Lomax;6-0;Soph.;7.8; 8.1 rpg