With a record 399 schools entered in this season’s Indiana High School Athletic Association state tournament, Columbus East can only be concerned about one.
Coach Danny Brown’s Olympians have been forced into a mix-and-match lineup much of the season due to injuries and players coming off rehabilitation, and that has produced uneven results.
On Sunday, Columbus East (9-9) drew Bloomington South on Feb. 5 in the first round of the 4A sectional that will be hosted by the Olympians. Never mind the sectional includes Columbus North, the No.1-ranked team in both the Class 4A poll of the Indiana Coaches of Girls Sports Association and the single class poll of the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association. The Olympians will have to produce a major upset to get past the first round.
Bloomington South (12-6) beat Columbus East 59-35 on Jan. 22.
“It’s definitely a tough draw for us,” Brown said. “They just beat us by 24 in a game that we did not play well or shoot well. They took us out of everything we do offensively, but they always play good defense.
“Next time around, we have to do a better job executing.”
Brown has been forced to blend players, such as top scorer Allyson Bunch who was coming off ACL surgery, into his lineup. “We’re still trying to get that cohesiveness as a team,” Brown said. “For the past two or three weeks, we’ve added a player back.”
Next to come back for East is sophomore forward Megan Galle, who was expected to miss the entire season due to a wrist injury. Galle will play in East’s final two regular-season games before the tournament begins.
“Megan is a very good outside shooter for us,” Brown said. “She is quick.”
Unfortunately, Galle will have to be force-red into the lineup.
“We don’t have much of a choice,” Brown said. “She is a good player and we need to get her in there. We just have to hope for the best.”
North (22-0) gets a bye in the first round and will open sectional play on Feb. 8 against the winner between East Central and Bloomington North that will be held Feb. 5 at Columbus East High School. The finals will be Feb. 9 at Columbus East High School.
The Bull Dogs, who have beaten every team in their sectional by more than 20 points during the regular season, are headed toward a showdown against Bedford North Lawrence (19-0) in the regional finals at Bedford North Lawrence if both teams take care of business.
Of the classes, 4A has the most entrants at 101 followed by 2A at 100 and 99 each in 3A and A.
The tournament runs through the finals on March 2 at the Hulman Center in Terre Haute. Play that day begins with the Class A game at 10:30 followed by 2A immediately afterward. The Class 3A game begins at 6 p.m. with the Class 4A game immediately following.
Seymour and Jennings County each drew a bye in the first round of the Class 4A New Albany Sectional.
In 3A, Brown County hosts the sectional and has drawn a bye. In Class A, Edinburgh plays Waldron in the Morristown Sectional. Hauser faces Jac-Cen-Del in the Jac-Cen-Del Sectional while Oldenburg Academy faces South Decatur in that same sectional. Trinity Lutheran plays Springs Valley in the first round of the Springs Valley Sectional.