Columbus East did the job on Bedford North Lawrence’s outside shooters Saturday morning.
But containing the Stars’ inside game proved to be a bigger challenge. Jenna Allen and Madison Webb each scored 21 points to lead Bedford to a 57-36 victory in the semifinals of the Columbus North Regional.
Allen, a 6-foot-1 junior and Indiana University recruit, scored 15 points in the first half. Webb, a 6-2 sophomore, had 17 in the second half. They combined to shoot 18 of 25 from the field.
“This is the best team we’ve seen all year,” East coach Danny Brown said. “The plan was to keep it out of Allen’s hands as much as possible, and Webb, we didn’t anticipate her having the game that she did. They just fed off each other at point-blank range, and they both had great games.”
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The Olympians (17-10) had things going their way early, taking a 5-4 three minutes into the game. But then the Stars (22-4) went on a 14-1 run to take control at 19-6.
East used a 3-pointer from Addy Galarno and a basket from Claire Cunningham to get back within 19-11. But a basket by Allen and a 27-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer from Chloe McKnight gave Bedford a 24-11 halftime lead.
The Stars had missed their first nine 3-point attempts before McKnight’s buzzer-beater.
“That was big,” Brown said. “You don’t expect to get out on her on that. But for the most part, we did a good job on their outside shooters. They just got us inside.”
The Olympians, meanwhile, had a cold shooting day. They went just 10 of 43 from the field, including 4 of 22 in the first half.
East was 5 of 14 from 3-point range, but only 5 of 29 from inside the arc.
“We had some good shots, and we just couldn’t put them in,” Brown said. “That was probably the key to start the game. We just uncharacteristically shot the ball poorly, but you have to give Bedford a lot of credit. They’re a great defensive team.”
Whitley Rankin hit a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter to keep the Stars from breaking it open. The Olympians were winning 50-34 with three minutes left in the game before Bedford hit 7 of 8 free throws to finish the game on a 7-2 run.
Galarno finished with 17 points to lead East.
“I thought we could have came out a little bit harder in the first half, but overall, I love our effort,” Galarno said. “I love this team, and I think we really played our hearts out.”
The Stars outrebounded the Olympians 27-24. Cunningham led East with nine rebounds.
The Olympians were coming off wins against Shelbyville, Columbus North and host East Central to capture their first sectional title since 2011.
“We had a great sectional,” Brown said. “These kids deserved the sectional title. They played hard. They played great defense. We just ran into a buzzsaw today.”
Galarno said the Olympians weren’t just satisfied with the sectional championship. They had bigger goals in mind.
“We’re devastated we lost this game, but we’re really proud of the way we played this year,” Galarno said. “I definitely think we had a successful season. We have a lot to be proud of. We beat our crosstown rival, and we won sectional for the first time in seven years, so I definitely think we made a statement this year.”