BLOOMINGTON — The No. 2-ranked Columbus North girls basketball team held off Franklin Central in its Conference Indiana debut Friday night with an impressive 17-0 run in the fourth quarter.

It was a highly contested match up for most of the game until the Bull Dogs pulled away in the fourth to walk away with the 51-37 victory. North struggled early form the free-throw line but found a way to knock them down late, hitting 7 of its 10 shots from the line.

“Free-throw shooting is very important,” North head coach Pat McKee said. “Clearly we need to be better throughout the whole game at it. It is something we emphasize. Every day we have sessions on free-throws. We know we’re not shooting them as well as we can and should. Hopefully with time we’ll get back to a rhythm and hit them consistently all game, every game.”

Imani Guy shot 83 percent from the line and hit all four of her fourth-quarter free throws to help North pull away. Last season’s representative on the junior all-star team, Maliah Howard-Bass, came up big for the Bull Dogs late in the game. North went into the fourth quarter trailing 31-30, and Howard scored 5 quick points to jump start the 17-0 run. All of her nine points came in the final quarter when her team needed them most.

“I recently had a knee injury,” Howard-Bass said. “So I just kind of wanted to take this game slowly and not try to push it too hard. So I was just going to lay back and let other people kind of do their thing and help them, but I knew that my team was needing more than what I was giving. So I stepped it up and tried my hardest.”

Freshman Tessa Lomax had a solid game, leading the team with 12 points and 10 rebounds. She was able to get great position on the post, making it easy for her teammates to feed her the ball, but McKee said they cannot play tomorrow’s game against Lawrence North like they did tonight.

“They’re really good,” McKee said of Lawrence North. “If we play the whole game tomorrow like the fourth quarter, we’ll have a fighting chance. But if we play like we played the second and third quarters, like little turtles putting our heads inside the shell, that won’t work. They’ll just pounce on us and take the ball for easy layups.”