In his 14 years as a head basketball coach, Danny Brown never began a game by spreading the floor.
But Wednesday night, going up against the undefeated Columbus North juggernaut, Brown had a couple of tricks up his sleeve. They helped Columbus East stay in the game for a half, but the Class 4A No. 2 Bull Dogs pulled away in the second half for a 60-38 victory.
“I’ve always kind of been an up-tempo guy, and the players didn’t quite understand the vocabulary during the week when I was saying ‘Slow it down. Bring it back out,’” Brown said. “They had to buy into it, and I thought it would give us a chance to win the game and I thought we just did an excellent job the first half at getting them spread out.”
The Olympians (5-4) led 18-13 early in the second quarter before a Tayler Goodall 3-pointer sparked a 9-0 North run. East was within 25-24 in the closing seconds of the first half, but Ali Patberg scored with 3 seconds left, then scored the Bull Dogs’ first six points of the second half in a 10-2 run that put them in control.
The Olympians were still within 40-34 with three minutes left in the third quarter when North (9-0) went on a 15-1 run to ice it. The run began with a 3-pointer by Emmy Schabel and ended with a 3 by Paige Littrell.
“At this moment in time, we just don’t have the firepower to sustain it,” Brown said. “They amped up the pressure a little bit and started trapping on our reverse dribbles, and then we had to come out of what we were doing and try to get back in the game.”
Goodall went 5 of 8 from 3-point range and led all scorers with 23 points.
“I shot a lot this week out of practice, and I just came out ready to play,” Goodall said.
East opened the game in a diamond-and-one with a chaser on Patberg and shut her out for the first 11 minutes. She finished with 14 points and six rebounds.
“It is (frustrating), but we have other players who can step up, and that’s what’s good about our team,” Patberg said. “We have multiple good players, and Tayler hit shots, and that’s what we needed. She did a really good job.”
“They’re not No. 2 in the state for nothing,” Brown said. “They’re a quality team. Goodall shot the lights out, and Patberg is just as good as they come.”
The Olympians went 6 of 8 from the field in the first half and 11 of 22 for the game. The Bull Dogs went 20 of 49 from the field and forced 20 East turnovers.
“I think our defense played very well tonight,” Goodall said. “We blocked out and rebounded.”
“Our coaches kind of got on us because we were reaching and fouling a lot,” Patberg said. “But we did a good job defending the basket. We just played hard and played smart.”
North had beaten the Olympians 66-25 in last year’s sectional final. The Bull Dogs returned 57 points from that game, while East had one point from that contest on the floor Wednesday.
“So to see that gritty of an effort tonight based on that just shows you that they hustle every time down the floor and give it everything they have because we had to to stay in the game tonight,” Brown said. “Allyson Bunch (who has been out with a torn ACL) will be with us the next game, and we’re going to be a whole lot better team come sectional time.”