Olympians, Bull Dogs figure to battle for title

The Columbus East gymnasts have an excellent opportunity Friday night to break a long sectional title drought.

The second-ranked Olympians haven’t won a sectional since 2001. They’ll try to break that drought when they host the sectional at 7 p.m. Friday.

“That’s been the goal from Day 1 — to win the sectional and win the regional and head up to state and see what we can do,” East coach Nancy Kirshman said. “We want to break that cycle of having injuries and come out with a victory.”

The Olympians’ biggest challenger will come from here in Columbus. Co-No. 4 Columbus North has won five consecutive sectional titles and nine of the past 10.

East beat the Bull Dogs in a dual meet early in the season, its first win against North since the 2013 regional. But the Bull Dogs aren’t focused on beating the Olympians.

“We compete against ourselves,” North co-coach Sandy Freshour said. “It’s going to be counter-productive to be focusing on other teams because we can’t control how well other teams perform. Our challenge and the way we purpose practice is to try and take care of some or the inconsistencies that we’ve had all year just because our kids are maybe not as experienced.”

The Bull Dogs are led by five-time state medal-winner Claire Thompson. The senior was the state bars, beam and all-around champion when North won the state team title in 2016 and defended her beam title last season.

East senior Adi Minor is the defending state champion on the bars. She has the state’s top scores this season on the vault, bars, beam and all-around — and she’s fully healthy this year after injuries late in her freshman and junior years ended her all-around hopes.

“I’d have to say we’re peaking hopefully at the right time,” Kirshman said. “Our score may not be as high because the judging may be a little tougher, and we may not do better, but we should be OK if we perform well.”

Crusaders headed to state

The Columbus Christian girls basketball team might have been an unlikely candidate to earn a trip to the ICSAA state finals just a few weeks ago.

The Crusaders won only three games during the regular season, but a pair of wins in last week’s South Regional have landed them in the state’s final four.

Columbus Christian (5-13) will play Granger Christian (11-9) in the semifinals at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Faith Christian School in Lafayette. Horizon Christian (17-2) will meet the North region winner between Victory Christian and Heritage Christian (Dyer) in the first semifinal at 10 a.m. The championship game is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

The Crusaders are making their first trip to state since winning the ICSAA championship in 2015.

Olympians named All-HCC

Two players from the sectional champion Columbus East girls basketball team have been named to the All-Hoosier Hills Conference squad.

Seniors Addy Galarno and Britney Ballard are on the first team. Senior Kristen Lyons made honorable mention.

Two Jennings County players — junior Callie Wilder and freshman Addyson Kent — also made honorable mention.

Road teams to wear white

Boys and soccer teams will wear their dark jerseys at home and their white jerseys on the road beginning this fall.

Previously, home teams wore their light-colored jerseys. The National Federation of High Schools, of which the IHSAA is a member, adopted the new rule at its meeting last month.

Hauser to host donkeys

Donkey Basketball will make its return to Hauser on Saturday. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m., and action begins at 6:30 p.m.

Advance tickets are available in the Hauser front office for $6. Tickets at the door are $8.

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