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After being unable to return to the hardwood for three weeks, the Columbus East girls basketball team players were champing at the bit to take their pent-up intensity out on anyone not wearing orange.
Shelbyville more than fit the bill.
Employing a 10-player platoon rotation and executing pesky pressure defense, the Olympians turned the Orange Pit into a meat grinder as they demolished the Golden Bears, 61-26.
East (1-3) dominated the boards, converted numerous turnovers and put seven players in the scoring column, including Audrey Wetzel, who paced the squad with 19 points. Senior captain Allyson Bunch added 12 and ripped down 10 rebounds while also helping her team limit Shelbyville to just seven made field goals.
“We we’re just ready to play somebody else,” East coach Danny Brown said.
“We’ve had 15 practices since our last game (Nov. 21) and only had 12 before our season even started.”
Inclement weather has been the biggest reason for the Olympians’ long break, forcing Brown’s team to reschedule recent “snowed out” contests. East dropped its first three games to opponents with a combined record of 20-1, so the O’s saw the Golden Bears (2-7) as the perfect remedy to get back on track.
“We were a little rusty at the start and those early turnover showed that,” Brown said. “But once we settled down, we were able to take control and wear Shelbyville down.”
The O’s did show some sloppy play early on, but still managed to build a 31-12 halftime lead.
The hosts jumped in front 9-1 after Wetzel buried her first of three 3-pointers at the five-minute mark. Senior Courtney Hunter followed with a putback, and Wetzel added a free throw before the guests finally connected on their first field goal with less than a minute remaining.
Abigail Wilson drilled a trey to open the second quarter for the Olympians, who went on an 11-4 run through the front-half portion of the period.
Hunter, Bunch and Brooke Ballard each had six points by intermission, while Wetzel had eight. Wetzel, a 5-foot-10 sophomore, returned in the third quarter to pour in another seven points to quickly push East’s lead to 38-12. She also grabbed five rebounds and registered four steals.
“I’m happy we won, we’ve been ready to play,” Wetzel said. “I got moved back to the wing position, and that’s where I feel most comfortable on offense.”
Wetzel said she was happy to lead her team in scoring, but doesn’t mind if someone else leads the charge.
“It’s nice to score along with Bunch,” she said. “We work well together.”
The O’s advantage swelled to as large as 59-19, following jumpers by Bunch and Michaela Griffey, before closing things out in the final minutes.
“This was a nice win, but we’ve got a busy week ahead of us,” Brown said. “Jeffersonville comes here on Saturday. We also take conference games seriously, so we’ve got to get ready to protect the “Pit.”
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