INDIANAPOLIS — Columbus North’s dreams of a second consecutive Class 4A state championship fell by the wayside the same way most of the Bull Dogs shots did Saturday night.
Top-ranked North suffered through an uncharacteristically cold shooting night. The Bull Dogs shot 32.2 percent (19 of 59) from the field in a 68-48 title-game loss to fourth-ranked Penn.
The Bull Dogs (27-2) made one valiant comeback but couldn’t make a second.
They rallied from a 13-point first-quarter deficit to take their only lead of the game in the opening minute of the second half.
It lasted less than 20 seconds.
North’s 6-foot-4 Imani Guy, who had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds in the first half, picked up her third foul shortly thereafter and went to the bench. She finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
The Kingsmen (28-2) looked like they might run away from the Bull Dogs early. Leading 11-7 midway through the first quarter, Penn went on a 9-0 run to take a 20-7 lead with 1:44 left in the period.
North used a huge basket from Imani Guy with three seconds left in the first quarter to cut the lead to 20-9. That started a 16-4 run, fueled by eight points from Guy, that got the Bull Dogs back in the game.
North finally drew even at 28 on a free throw by Guy with 46 seconds left in the half. The Kingsmen used a basket from Camryn Buhr to take a 30-28 lead at the break.
The Bull Dogs got back in the game thanks to a big rebounding advantage in the first half. North outrebounded Penn 25-11 in the opening 16 minutes, including 15-1 on the offensive glass.
The Bull Dogs took a brief 31-30 lead on a 3-pointer by Maliah Howard-Bass to begin the second half. But after that, the rest of the third quarter was all Kingsmen.
North was within 38-35 with 4:40 left in the third period. Penn then went on a 16-2 run to close the quarter, capped by a buzzer-beater by Katilyn Marenyi that gave the Kingsmen a 54-37 lead heading into the final eight minutes.
The Bull Dogs would get no closer in the final period.
Camryn Buhr led Penn with 24 points. Point guard Kaitlyn Marenyi, who was injured and did not play in North’s 67-52 win against the Kingsmen on Dec. 30, added 21 points for Penn.
Maliah Howard-Bass scored 12 points for the Bull Dogs but endured her worst shooting night of the season, going 4 of 20. Elle Williams added eight points and 12 rebounds in the final game of her high school career.