North girls rebound from first loss

BLOOMINGTON — With their hopes of an undefeated season having faded, the Columbus North girls basketball team still had plenty of incentives for Friday night’s game at Bloomington North.

First, the Bull Dogs had a chance to finish undefeated in Conference Indiana play for the fourth consecutive year.

Second, Columbus North had a chance to notch its fifth consecutive 20-win season.

Third, the Bull Dogs had the opportunity to get some practice in the gym in which their sectional will be held beginning Feb. 2.

Finally, Columbus North wanted to bounce back strong from their first loss in nearly two seasons, a Tuesday defeat at Heritage Christian.

The Class 4A No. 1 Bull Dogs achieved all of those things Friday in a 60-18 victory.

“We had a very good practice Wednesday after the loss,” junior point guard Ashlyn Huffman said. “It refocused us, and it’s going to help prepare us for the rest of the season.”

Huffman scored a season-high 18 points to lead the Bull Dogs (20-1, 7-0). She went 8 of 12 from the field, including 2 of 3 from 3-point range.

“I looked for my shot more than I usually do,” Huffman said. “Defensively, I thought we played really well. We were able to get some steals, which resulted in fast-break layups, so that was nice.”

Columbus North jumped out to an early 10-0 lead, but the Cougars (1-18, 0-7) used a pair of free throws and a 3-pointer to cut the lead in half. The Bull Dogs then scored the final 24 points of the first half to take a 34-5 lead.

Columbus North coach Pat McKee emptied his bench midway through the second quarter. The starters returned to begin the third quarter, then a combination of starters and bench players finished that period and played early in the fourth the reserves finished the game.

Jenna Borger and Elle Williams each scored eight points for the Bull Dogs. Williams and Kat Norman grabbed six rebounds apiece.

“I think it’s always good to get a feel of the gym before, but I’m sure we’ll have practice here before sectional as well,” Williams said.

Bloomington North coach Jason Speer, who has no seniors, could take solace in his team’s 31-29 rebounding advantage.

“Those are the sorts of the things that we put as wins with a very, very young team,” Speer said. “I think you’d have to look long and hard to see a team as young as we are. To come out here being 1-17 and playing a very good basketball team in Columbus North, and to give it their best effort, the girls are very brave.”

Speer, who had spent the past seven years as the Columbus North boys coach, knew what he was up against in Friday’s girls game.

“They do a fantastic job and have a fantastic program,” Speer said. “We’re just trying to learn how to compete, and then once we do that, everything else will fall into place.”

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.