One play in the fourth quarter switched the momentum and spurred the Lady Lions on to the 50-44 victory over Columbus East in the season opener for both squads.
With 4:44 on the fourth-quarter clock, Columbus East’s Allyson Bunch was whistled for a foul and then a technical foul. Those two personal fouls gave the Lady Olympians’ best player five fouls and forced her to the bench while leading 42-38.
From that point, the Lady Lions outscored the Lady Olympians 12-2 to seal the victory. After two free throws by Mackenzie Campbell, Kelsi Ash scored inside to tie the game and then Keragan Niehoff dished to Ash for the bucket to put the Lady Lions on top for good at 44-42. Sarah Cook iced the game from the charity stripe, connecting on 6-of-8.
“We challenged our kids before the game that good teams find a way to win games. We didn’t execute or take care of the ball the way we wanted, but we hung around and made enough big plays at the right times to get the job done,” Coach Melissa Marlow said. “These kids had never beaten Columbus East, so this is a good win in that sense. We have a lot to work on, but 1-0 is a lot better than 0-1 right now.”
The Lady Lions looked like they would run away to the victory early as Rushville jumped out to the 14-5 lead in the first quarter. Niehoff had four of the first six points and Campbell had back-to back 3-pointers in the run. After a Columbus East time out and bucket, Campbell connected on her third triple of the quarter to push the lead to 17-7.
The Lady Olympians closed the quarter on an 8-2 run to cut the deficit to 19-15 heading to the second quarter.
The Lady Lions extended the lead to six points on back-to-back buckets by Ash early in the quarter. That was as much as they could separate themselves from the Lady Olympians. Two buckets by Bunch and two by Audrey Wetzel had the Lady Olympians within two, 27-25, at the half.