ST. LEON — Columbus East finally got over the Columbus North hump when it beat the Bull Dogs for the first time in six years Friday in an East Central Sectional semifinal.

The Olympians forced 10 turnovers in the first quarter on their way to beating North 39-29. East started the game on a 10-0 run and didn’t allow any points until Nadia Lomax scored two free throws with 1:28 left in the opening period.

North didn’t take its first shot until four minutes into the game, and the Olympians (16-9) led 12-4 at the end of the quarter.

“For whatever reason, we did not play with confidence tonight,” North coach Pat McKee said. “We came out and made some unforced errors, and they took advantage and got a lead. That caused us to press a little harder, and maybe didn’t do some things in a normal way or character.”

The Bull Dogs (17-7) didn’t have any turnovers in the second quarter, but still struggled to score points despite Annie Anderson’s five-point second quarter. East extended its lead by one more to end the half ahead 20-11.

McKee changed the lineup to start the third quarter by putting Kelsey Patberg on the floor to begin the second half. She helped give the Bull Dogs a spark by scoring seven points in the final two quarters, but Addy Galarno had a six-point third quarter to help keep the distance on her way to scoring a game-high 17 points. Galarno scored on all eight of her free-throw attempts.

“She was great for us,” East coach Danny Brown said of Galarno. “During that 10-0 run, we isolated her down low, and if she didn’t get the bucket she got to the free-throw line. She’s been our best free-throw shooter all year.”

The Olympians ended the third quarter with its biggest lead at 33-21, but North opened the fourth with a 5-0 run to cut it to nine. That was the closest the Bull Dogs would get, ending their season shooting 1 of 16 from 3-point range.

The starting five scored all 39 points for East, with Kristen Lyons scoring eight points and grabbing nine rebounds. Britney Ballard added six points to her seven rebounds while both Claire Cunningham and Whitley Rankin ended with four points. Cunningham also had eight rebounds.

“All year, coach Brown has been telling us that me and Claire have to attack the boards, and our guards have to help rebound,” Galarno said. “I think we did that tonight.”

The North bench outscored its starters 15-14, with Kesley Patberg’s nine points leading the way. Annie Anderson led the starters with eight points.

Jenna Borger, who scored 25 points in the Bull Dogs’ 57-54 win against East during the regular season, was held to just one basket in the rematch. The Olympians employed a 1-2-2 zone at the beginning of most possessions and often dropped back into their traditional 2-3 midway through a possession.

“Coach Brown made a new defense for us because he wanted to shake things up, and we believed it,” Lyons said. “He’s a great coach and he knew it would work. We just executed it really well, and that was really the key.”

Friday was the last crack for East seniors Lyons, Ballard and Galarno to get their first win of their high school careers against North and they finally did with a sectional championship berth on the line. The Olympians will play East Central (16-9) at 7 tonight for the sectional title.

Brown said the motivation of winning a sectional should help keep his players focused for tonight.

“We haven’t been there before in my four years,” Lyons said. “Since we’ve beat North (in 2011) we’ve lost to them every year in the sectional. This year, since we beat them we’re going in there (tonight) looking to cut down some nets.”

This will be the first time since East won in 2011 that a team other than North will be crowned the sectional champion.

Author photo
Frank Bonner is a sports writer for The Republic. He can be reached at fbonner@therepublic.com or 812-379-5632.