A defensively stingy Bloomington North team came to town having surrendered an average of 48 points through a 22-game regular season.
Columbus East’s Allyson Bunch almost eclipsed the Cougars average all by herself.
The sophomore Olympian scored early and often and led East past North, 67-53, Tuesday night in the opening round of the Columbus North Sectional.
In scoring 45 points, Bunch successfully eclipsed the East single-game scoring record of 42 set by Maria Stack in the 1980 state championship game in which East lost to Southport.
Bunch “was held” to nine first quarter points, but found double figures in each of the final three periods in which she scored 10, 16 and 10 respectively. She also pulled down a team-high 12 rebounds.
“I just came ready to play,” said Bunch. “I couldn’t have done it without my teammates.”
The 5-foot-10 forward hit 16-of-33 from the field and 10-of-11 from the foul line in the memorable performance.
“We knew we had to concentrate on (Courtney) Ogle and Bunch,” said Bloomington North coach Alana Harrington. “I guess we didn’t concentrate enough on Bunch.
“Give her all the credit,” the fifth-year coach continued. “But I don’t like giving up 45 points to anyone. That’s insane.”
It may have been Bunch’s final 10 that proved the most painful to the (9-14) Cougars.
“That’s a lot of points for a team to score against a good defensive team,” said East coach Danny Brown. “She (Allyson) sure got some big buckets down the stretch.”
It was in the final quarter when North attempted to make a game of it that Bunch scored all of East’s points.
Using full court pressure to twice pull to within 10 of East, Bunch answered the Cougars’ runs each time.
“We created some turnovers but didn’t always convert on our end,” said Harrington. “And then we gave up some layups on the other end.”
But there were not enough “layups” and too many turnovers to make Brown comfortable.
“We got a little loose with our press offense,” said Brown, referring to his team’s seven fourth quarter mistakes. “I’m not going to say we were playing not to lose, but we weren’t aggressive enough.
“North has a lot of experience,” he continued. “They began to make that extra pass in the fourth quarter. They were not going to go down easy.”
Such was not case in the first half.
Hurried by East’s zone, North forced several first half shots that led to a cold 7-of-29 firing in the first 16 minutes.
“(Megan) Galle and (Courtney) Hunter did a really nice job of closing out on their shooters and keeping good pressure on them,” said Brown whose team led 35-20 at halftime.
“We were not very good in the first half,” said Harrington. “We were prepared, but I’m not sure it looked like it. I liked our second half, but the hole was too big.”
With the victory, the defending champion Olympians (16-6) advanced to Friday’s second round action and will meet East Central (11-9) at 7:30 p.m. East defeated the Trojans 76-42 in mid-November.
The 6 p.m. opener will feature host Columbus North (18-3) and Bloomington South (13-8), a 56-23 winner over Shelbyville in Tuesday’s sectional opener. North defeated South by 10 points three weeks ago.
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