Last year at this time, the Columbus East and Columbus North girls basketball teams wrapped up outright conference titles by finishing undefeated in their respective conferences.
Tonight and Friday night, the Olympians and Bull Dogs can repeat those achievements. East will try for a second consecutive undefeated Hoosier Hills Conference title tonight at Jennings County, and North will shoot for a second straight Conference Indiana crown Friday at Bloomington North.
“We’ve clinched a share of the title, and we want to be undisputed champs, and it’s going to be a tough game at Jennings County on Thursday,” East coach Danny Brown said.
The Class 4A No. 10 Olympians (15-3, 5-0) put themselves in position for another HHC title with a 58-51 upset at 4A then-No. 2 Bedford North Lawrence (17-2, 5-1) last week. Jennings (15-3, 3-1) has lost only to BNL in the conference.
“We play in one of the toughest conferences in the state,” Brown said. “You look at the Hoosier Hills Conference in the Sagarin Ratings, and it’s one of the top four or five, two or three, every year, and this year is no exception. So to be undisputed champs two years in a row would be great. It would say a lot about this team that we’ve had here together for two years. I want it for these kids because they work so hard for us.”
East, which is enjoying its best season since reaching the state finals in 2007, is led by senior point guard Koryn Griewe (16.9 ppg, 3.1 apg, 3.8 spg) and junior forward Saige Stahl (16.7 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 4.2 spg). Greiwe recently became the Olympians’ all-time leading scorer.
“(Going undefeated in the HHC again) would be so special,” Greiwe said. “That was one of our huge goals coming into the season. It would be awesome to accomplish that this year.”
If the Panthers upset East tonight, they could earn a three-way share of the title with the Olympians and BNL with a win at Floyd Central on Tuesday. Jennings is led by sophomores Juliann Woodard (16.4 ppg, 12.9 rpg) and Alivia Elmore (15.3 ppg, 3.2 apg).
The Panthers are having their best season since the turn of the century.
“They have as talented a group as they’ve had in a long time,” Brown said. “They’re having a great year. Elmore is a great player, and Woodard is a great player. Her and Lily (Ernstes) underneath and (Kali) Thompson out front, they just have a solid group. (Coach) Kristi (Sigler) does a great job with them. They’re going to be a challenge, and we’re going to have to be ready for it.”
Meanwhile, Columbus North (11-8, 4-0) also has clinched at least a tie for the Conference Indiana title. The Bull Dogs will face an improved Bloomington North team that is having its best season since 2010-11.
If the Cougars (9-10, 2-1) were to upset Columbus North, the winner of their game at Terre Haute North on Jan. 27 would share the conference title with the Bull Dogs.
“We always have the goal of winning the conference each year, so if we’re able to accomplish that, that would be great,” Columbus North coach Brett White said. “We play a difficult schedule, and we do that on purpose to set ourselves up to accomplish that.”
The Bull Dogs are led by junior guard Lauren Barker (12.9 ppg, 3.0 spg) and senior forward Kylah Lawson (11.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg).
Sophomore Mia Robbenolt (11.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and junior Mallory Barrow (9.5 ppg) lead the Cougars.
“They’re a much improved team,” White said. “They’re a fairly young team, but they have some juniors that have played the past couple years. We’re going to have our hands full on Friday.”