Undefeated summer foreshadowed East’s run to sectional title

Columbus East girls basketball coach Danny Brown caught a glimpse of how good his team could be when the Olympians went undefeated during June, when Indiana high schools are permitted to play games against other schools.

That success sparked the Olympians to begin the 2017-18 season with seven consecutive wins. They were 11-2 and 13-3 before losing six of their last seven to end the regular season 14-9.

“I think the chemistry on this team was developed over the summer, and that’s carried over,” Brown said. “We kind of had a slip or two there down the stretch, but we never lost the eye on the state tournament and what could be done.”

East bounced back in a big way last week. The Olympians routed Shelbyville in the East Central Sectional opener, then avenged a regular-season loss to Columbus North with a 39-29 victory, snapping an 11-game losing streak to the Bull Dogs.

Saturday night, the Olympians rallied from a seven-point first-half deficit to beat East Central 34-32 and capture their first sectional title since 2011.

“We just continue to never give up and keep fighting, and I think that was evident in the championship game,” Brown said. “We could have easily lost that game, but we kept fighting. Every possession was important, as you could tell by the low score.”

The sectional title puts the Olympians (17-9) in Saturday’s Columbus North Regional, where they will face Bedford North Lawrence (21-4) at 10 a.m. Saturday. Center Grove (20-6) and Class 4A No. 3 Castle (23-0) will meet in the second semifinal at noon, and the regional championship will be at 8 p.m.

Tickets on sale at East

Tickets for Saturday’s Columbus North girls basketball regional will be on sale during regular school hours at Columbus East through the end of the week.

Tickets also will be sold at the Olympians’ home boys basketball game against Jennings County on Friday night. Tickets are $10 and are good for the entire regional.

East-Franklin boys moved

With the possibility of the Columbus East girls basketball team playing in Saturday night’s Columbus North Regional final, East’s home boys game against Franklin has been moved to the afternoon.

The JV boys game now will begin at 3 p.m. The varsity will follow at around 4:45 p.m.

Trinity girls in regional

Three Columbus residents are members of the Trinity Lutheran girls basketball team that won last week’s West Washington Sectional and will play in the regional at the same place on Saturday.

Savanna Setty, Hannah Sabotin and Delaney Maschino of Columbus are members of the Cougars team that is 21-5 and finished the regular season ranked No. 9 in Class A.

Trinity will play Northeast Dubois (17-7) at noon Saturday at West Washington. No. 2 Vincennes Rivet (23-2) and No. 6 South Central (19-5) will meet in the first semifinal at noon. The regional championship will be at 8 p.m.

Wrestlers set for semistate

Twenty-five wrestlers from four area schools will look to punch their tickets to the state finals with top-four finishes in Saturday’s Evansville Semistate.

Columbus East leads the area contingent with 13 semistate qualifiers in the 14 weight classes. Cayden Rooks (126 pounds) is the defending state champion at 120, and four others — Graham Rooks (132), Dawson Combest (138), Jake Schoenegge (145) and Corban Pollitt (152) — are returning state qualifiers.

Olympians looking to join them are Nate John (106), Jeremy Clark (113), Joey Gordon (120), Nick South (160), Andy Davidson (170), Noah White (182), Jacob Bolte (220) and Dalton Anderson (285).

Columbus North will send four wrestlers to semistate — Morgan Smith (106), Keandre Watson (126), Brigham Kleinhenz (170) and Bradley Gutierrez (220). The six  qualifiers from Jennings County are Teagan Johnson (106), Victor Antunez (120), Xavier Barberis (126), Dalton Craig (132), Brooks Wathen (152) and Zane Beineke (170).

Brown County will be represented by David Tucker (113) and Levi Mullins (195).

Competition begins at 10 a.m. EST (9 a.m. CST) at the Ford Center in Evansville. With 16 competitors in each weight class, wrestlers will have to win at least their first two matches to guarantee a spot in the state tournament.

Callout meetings planned

There will be a callout/parent meeting for anyone interested in playing softball at Columbus East this spring at 6 p.m. today in the school’s Championship Chamber.

The Columbus North Baseball callout meeting will be at 6 p.m. Monday in the school’s Large Group Instruction room.

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.