HANOVER — At least for one day, the Columbus East girls basketball team discovered that not practicing might be a good thing.
Out of action for three days due to Christmas break and then snow on Wednesday, the Olympians came off one workout to beat McCutcheon 53-43 in the Rumble on the River tournament at Southwestern High School on Friday.
“You know, I think we had fresh legs,” said Columbus East coach Danny Brown, whose team now faces Fishers at noon today in second-round action. “We’ve only had one practice in the last four days.”
East ran away to a 19-3 lead after the first quarter and a 26-14 halftime advantage. The second half was merely maintaining the advantage.
Mikala Lomax and Sarah Loesch each had six points in the first quarter for the Olympians. Lomax, a forward, and Loesch, a center, connected on a variety of short turnaround jumpers. East guard Audrey Wetzel added five points.
“The front line kind of dominated in the first quarter,” Brown said. “We had some very good ball movement. We kind of exploited their zone the whole game.”
While the Olympians (6-4) were working the ball into open areas, the defense was giving McCutcheon (2-8) fits.
“In our matchup zone, we were getting out on shooters,” Brown said. “They had one quick guard (Kerstyn Lowry) who we had to keep from penetrating. She beat us down the floor a few times in the middle quarters.”
East led by eight points going into the final quarter and just relied on some smart basketball.
“At the start of the fourth quarter, we made the decision to make them come out of the zone. We held the ball and took 2:09 off the clock. They never double-teamed us.
“We really tightened things up in the fourth. We started taking care of the basketball and executed well at both ends. We also hit our free throws down the stretch.”
Offensively, Loesch had a career-high with 18 points. She also had 10 rebounds.
Lomax tied for team-high with 18 points and pulled down six rebounds. Wetzel finished with nine points and nine rebounds.
“Mikala is our leader, and she played very well,” Brown said. “And that was Loesch’s best game of the year. We got her the ball down in the low post. We reversed the ball and got the defense to shift. But Sarah was aggressive today, and she played with a lot of confidence. We need that out of her.”
Courtney Hunter directed the offense with six assists and no turnovers.
“It’s been something we are harping on in practice,” Brown said. “Assists to turnover ratio. It’s should be two to one assists to turnovers, and it’s been the opposite. Courtney really handled the ball well.”