Rock Solid: Bachmann has been steadying force for East girls basketball

Leah Bachmann has been the rock for the Columbus East girls basketball team over the past four years.

The senior and four-year starter has been a key contributor to the Olympians’ success. She hopes to add one last piece to her high career on the hardwood — a sectional title.

That journey begins tonight when East takes on its sectional nemesis East Central in the second game of the opening round of the Shelbyville Sectional.

This season, Bachmann has been a great complementary piece to fellow senior Saige Stahl. The duo have been a dominant force in the middle of the paint both offensively and defensively.

Stahl has been top scorer for East, but Bachmann has taken some of the load off of Stahl.

“Saige and I have the opportunity to have each other’s backs. We’re always able to cover each other’s mistakes on defense, especially,” Bachmann said. “Saige is great at blocking whenever I can’t get there. I’ve learned how she plays, and she’s learned how I play, so we work well together.”

Bachmann has been a starter for the Olympians since she arrived with the program as a freshman. She’s been one of the most consistent and durable players that coach Danny Brown has had in the past few years. She’s missed only one game in her four-year career because of a sprained ankle.

Columbus East’s Leah Bachmann, right, grabs a rebound before Seymour’s Journee Brown during a basketball game at Columbus East High School in Columbus, Ind., Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023.

The Republic file photo

Bachmann has averaged between nine to 10 points per game and six rebounds per game from her sophomore to senior years. She helped the team become undefeated Hoosier Hills Conference champions her sophomore and junior seasons. She was also named All-Conference and an All-State Honorable Mention during those same two years.

“She’s gained a lot of confidence, especially her senior year. She’s battled against some of the best teams in the state and some of the best players in the state. She’s been consistent,” Brown said. “She’s improved a lot on her game, but she’s consistent. She brings a great spirit to practice every day and has a great attitude. She’s a credit to Columbus East basketball.”

Being a starter as a freshman to start the season can be nerve-wracking for most players, and Bachmann was no exception. She said she was nervous a bit at first when she received the news that she’d become a starter.

Bachmann recalled in the middle of her freshman season, she came off the bench for the game against Seymour. It was from that point froward that it helped her get settled into her role.

“Freshman year, I didn’t play like myself because I was so nervous all the time,” Bachmann said. “All of a sudden, I was able to do things that I haven’t been doing. I think it was the nerves of starting, and that was a big deal to me.”

Leah Bachmann

Bachmann began playing basketball when she was in kindergarten. She started out playing for Foundation For Youth. She also played basketball at Rockcreek Elementary and Northside Middle School before going to East. She’s played on many AAU teams growing up. She finished up playing AAU last summer for the Indiana Flight Sharks.

The 6-foot Bachmann received interest from some colleges about playing basketball, but ultimately, she wants to pursue other interests. She’ll pursue a Bachelor’s in Kineisology that she hopes will lead to a Masters in Occupational Therapy. She’s been looking at Indiana University, Indiana State and Valparasio, but is leaning towards Indiana. She currently works in the athletics department at FFY, which helps her interact with kids and hopes to work with children down the road.

“I finally figured out what I wanted to do in college, and that was a big deciding factor for me,” Bachmann explained.

With Bachmann’s basketball career winding down, she is appreciative and thankful for being a part of the program.

“I feel like I have made some of my best friends, so I’m friends with the people that I was friends with on the team with from freshman year,” Bachmann said. “We’re close. We can always talk to each other. They’re there for me in season and out.”

With six seniors on the roster this year, there will be some huge shoes to fill for whomever is named the next coach of the team. Brown announced earlier in the season that he is retiring from coaching after 20 years at East.

“She not afraid of any competition. That’s why we’ve been able to have the success we’ve had, is that she doesn’t back down from anybody,” Brown said. “They’re going to look back, and she’s going to be one of those players next year you don’t realize how good they are until the next year when they’ve graduated. She’s a special person, too. She’s fun to be around. She’s come a long way and has been there from the get-go.”