Questions Answered: Olympians find replacements, finish summer 7-1

Coming off its best girls basketball season in more than a decade, the Columbus East had some question marks as they look to remain a top-10 program in the state.

The Olympians seemed to answer those questions during the June period in which coaches are permitted to work with their teams in practice and game settings. They went 7-1, and more importantly, found a few players who could help ease the loss of three starters to graduation.

“We had a great June,” East coach Danny Brown. “I was pleased. We lost a lot from last year with the seniors that we lost and three starters, so we have some positions to fill. We’re looking to see who’s going to step up.”

The biggest of those question marks is at point guard, where the Olympians must replace the school’s all-time leading scorer and four-time Republic Girls Basketball Player of the Year Koryn Greiwe, who is headed to Indiana Wesleyan. But Brown was pleased with what he saw this summer from incoming senior Allyson Craig, who has been Greiwe’s backup the past two years.

“Allyson Craig I thought just did a great job,” Brown said. “She’s been waiting her turn behind Koryn. She’s gotten her opportunity, and she’s going to make the most of it. She did a great job passing and scoring. She’s very fast, very quick, and I’m very pleased with the way she’s played.”

One area East won’t have questions is in the frontcourt. The Olympians return Indiana Junior All-Star Saige Stahl, who shared Republic Girls Basketball Player of the Year honors with Greiwe last season and has multiple Division I scholarship offers, as well as fellow four-year starter Leah Bachmann, from a team that went 19-4 and was undefeated in the Hoosier Hills Conference for the second consecutive year.

Columbus East’s Leah Bachmann, left, drives to the basket against Jennings County’s Juliann Woodard Thursday Jan. 21, 2022, at Jennings County.

“We’re pleased not only with Saige, who was an Junior All-Star and is being heavily recruited, but all of them,” Brown said. “Leah is right there too. We’re looking for her to play more inside this year. We’ll look for her to score more.”

Sharpshooter Maeleigh Roberts, who will be a senior, took over the shooting guard role this summer.

“She has improved her game,” Brown said. “She is being asked to handle the ball more and drive to the basket more. Her outside shot is the best we’ve got, but she’s improved in other areas of the game, her ball-handling and her driving ability. It’s a good combination of her and Allyson. They’re really stepping up.”

East’s other starter this summer was incoming senior Heidi Murphy. Murphy, who played mostly JV as a freshman and sophomore, is back after not playing basketball last year.

“She provides a lot of basketball IQ,” Brown said. “She can shoot from out and can drive.”

Two incoming juniors who saw significant action off the bench last season and could compete for starting roles were missing for all or part of the summer. Messiah Trapp was on vacation for some of the games, and Jenna Guse was injured and missed all of the games.

“(Trapp) can give Leah a break inside, and she’s just fast and quick and can play on the wing or inside,” Brown said. “We’re counting on (Guse). She brings a lot to the wing and guard areas. She’s one of our quickest players, and her shot has really improved. She’ll be a big part of what we do next year.”

Incoming senior Brielle Stevens is back and healthy after missing most of last season with an injury. The other two players who saw varsity action for the Olympians this summer were incoming junior Victoria Cuhadar and incoming sophomore Kimberly Carothers.

“(Cuhadar will) provide us a 3-point threat,” Brown said. “(Carothers) could be a diamond in the rough. She’ll see a lot of action. Against the St. Louis (Vashon) team, the fastest, quickest team, she had her best game.”

East went 3-0 at the Seymour Shootout, beating Mt. Vernon by 30 points, Charlestown by eight and Lanesville by six. The Olympians then went 4-1 at the Indiana University team camp, beating Evansville Memorial by 13, Mary Institute (Missouri) by eight, Nazareth Academy (Illinois) by three and Maine South (Illinois) on a free throw by Stahl in sudden death after three overtimes before falling to Vashon by 18.

“We didn’t have a chance with the injuries and some of them not there, but I think we’ll be fast and be a pressing team,” Brown said. “That’s something we can look forward to. I think the experience with the six seniors we have, they’re ready to make a name for themselves. After the team we had last year, I think they’re ready to put their stamp on things.”

Note: This is the first in a six-part series this week wrapping up the summer basketball seasons for the Columbus East, Columbus North and Hauser girls and the East, North and Hauser boys.