BLOOMINGTON — With 2:05 remaining during Saturday afternoon’s Bloomington South Sectional showdown with rival Columbus North, Columbus East coach Danny Brown decided it was time to pull senior Allyson Bunch from the game for the very last time.
Bunch embraced her teammates and coaches in an emotional moment made necessary by North’s 85-56 win that ended the Olympians’ season.
Even North’s fans gave Bunch, a team leader the past four years, an ovation as she walked off the court.
She managed to score a team-high 15 points for the Olympians but the 4A No.3-ranked Bull Dogs were simply too good.
“It was very tough on me to take her out of the game,” Brown said. “It only seemed like yesterday when she played in her first game for me. Allyson has meant so much to me and to this team.
“She was one of the most tenacious players I have ever coached. Every game she was so competitive offensively and defensively. She was a great leader and there will be some huge shoes to fill because she solidified herself as one of the best players to play for Columbus East basketball.”
Bunch is headed to Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne to continue her career.
“Coach told me as I headed to the bench what a great game and great career I had,” Bunch said.
“He told me to shake it off because I still have more basketball left.”
“She is such a great player,” North senior Tayler Goodall said of Bunch. “It was a lot of fun playing against her over the many years and I wish her nothing but the best.”
Both teams got off to a rough start out of the gate in the first couple of possessions, but it was North that found its stride and jumped out to a 9-1 lead. The Bull Dogs kept the aggression going to jump ahead 23-9 after one quarter.
“Our objective was just trying to slow North down offensively and to make it through that first quarter,” Brown said. “We had to be patient offensively and hopefully we would still be in the game. They knocked down some 3s and hit some well-contested shots. From that point forward was when the game got away from us.”
“I think we were over-eager to start the game because of the emotions of the rivalry,” North coach Pat McKee said. “We tried to go a little too fast to start out and it led to turnovers for us. After the next few minutes, we calmed down and went to the pace we liked.”
The Bull Dogs defense forced a string of turnovers that resulted in another 9-0 run in the second quarter and eventually a 48-21 halftime lead. Audrey Wetzel scored five of her team’s first seven points in the second quarter, but it wasn’t enough to keep pace.
Patberg led North with 21 points and Goodall had five 3-pointers and finished with 17.
Wetzel finished with 10 points and Brooke Ballard had nine points for East.
“My teammates gave it all they could out there,” Bunch said. “It was a like a roller coaster ride most of the way and I enjoyed every minute of it.”
“This season was a lot of fun,” Olympians senior Molly Macy said. “There were a lot of ups and downs throughout and we came together at the end playing our best, knowing North is a real good team.”
Fellow seniors Katie Ritenour and Courtney Hunter concurred with Macy.
“It was great to play with my other three senior classmates one last time,” Ritenour said. “We played great together all season. Despite the loss, it was great to end the year on a strong note.”
“Coach told us to keep our heads up because we played our best out there,” Hunter said.