Columbus East went into attack mode Tuesday evening and came away with decisive results after pulling away from Brownstown Central for a 73-58 win.
The harassing style of play enabled the hosts to snap a short losing skid and even their mark at 2-2 while handing the Braves (3-1) their first setback of the young season.
The Olympians pressured the Braves into 24 turnovers, which included 20 steals and several other forced miscues.
“We were the aggressors tonight,” said Olympians coach Danny Brown. “We’ve been playing back on our heels the past two games, so we wanted to change that and come out like we did in our opener.”
The Braves trailed just 37-34 at halftime, despite turning the ball over a dozen times and getting outscored 24-17 in the first quarter.
But they failed to match East’s intensity coming out of the locker room and eventually faded down the stretch.
“We didn’t come out and do the things we needed to do in this game,” said Brownstown coach Karla Rieckers. “When someone comes out and pressures you, then you better be ready to handle it, and we didn’t.”
The senior tandem of Brooke Ebbing and Riley Wischmeier were a one-two punch for the Braves as each finished with 21 points. The 6-foot Wischmeier also ripped down 11 rebounds.
But the Olympians countered with a more balanced approach as four players recorded double-figure scoring, led by Audrey Wetzel, who poured in a career-high 30 points. The 5-10 junior had 13 of her team’s 37 points at halftime and kept attacking the Braves defense in the second half to add even more.
“I thought we had a very balanced team effort,” said Brown. “Brooke Ballard showed great leadership from up top and that carried over to our wings in Wetzel and (Megan) Galle.”
It was actually Brownstown Central that appeared to be the aggressor at the start after two quick inside buckets by Wischmeier gave the guests a 4-0 lead.
But East managed to knot the contest moments later and then quickly surged ahead after Wetzel drained a 3-pointer at the 5:50 mark followed by consecutive steals and layups by Galle to push the O’s in front 11-4.
Galle added 13 points for East, as well as five rebounds and four assists, but proved to be an even bigger thorn in the side of the Braves by registering nine steals. Her third theft of the contest led to a trey by Ballard to push the advantage to 18-9 before Galle drilled back-to-back 3-pointers in the final 100 seconds on the first quarter to close out the frame at 24-17.
Ebbing came on strong for Brownstown in the second period, scoring her team’s first nine points to help them pull even at 26-all. Her assist to Bailey Bonebright moments later even pushed the Braves ahead, but the Olympians answered back with five straight points and never trailed again.
Any ideas of another rally by Brownstown was solidly thwarted after East outscored the Braves 22-11 and salted the game away with steady free throw shooting in the fourth quarter.