Despite committing 16 first-half turnovers, the Columbus North girls basketball team was in decent shape when it trailed Lawrence North by only one point at halftime Saturday afternoon.
But in the blink of an eye, the Wildcats widened the gap.
Lawrence North hit three consecutive 3-pointers to begin the second half and scored the first 15 points of the quarter. That capped a 17-0 run overall that propelled the Wildcats to a 65-54 victory.
“We should handle the ball cleaner, but the big turning point of the game were the first three possessions of the third quarter, when we didn’t close out properly,” Columbus North coach Pat McKee said. “We did fine after that, but we could never get all the way back.”
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The Class 4A No. 2 Bull Dogs (3-1) led by as many as five in the first half and took a 27-26 lead on a pair of Kenzie Patberg free throws with 12 seconds left in the half. But Destiny Perkins scored with 5 seconds remaining to give 4A No. 7 Lawrence North (3-1) a 28-27 lead at the break.
Mya Parker, Katie Davidson and Parker again hit 3-pointers to begin the second half to push the lead to 10. Three more Wildcats baskets gave them a 43-27 lead with 5 minutes left in the third quarter.
“We always talk about the first two minutes, first four minutes of both the first and second halves,” Lawrence North coach Chris Giffin said. “Coming out of halftime, we were really sharp offensively. That was about as well as a team can play offensively, and when you make shots, especially from the 3-point line, it tends to snowball and help your defense and then obviously get in the heads of the opposing team.”
Columbus North got back to within 55-44 on a 3-pointer by Maliah Howard-Bass with 4:13 left in the game and 10 on a 3-point play by Imani Guy with :32 seconds left, but couldn’t get it into single digits.
Howard-Bass scored 26 points, and Guy grabbed 13 rebounds to lead the Bull Dogs. Perkins, an Akron recruit, and Trinity Brady, each scored 19 for the Wildcats.
The loss snapped Columbus North’s 28-game home winning streak. The Bull Dogs hadn’t lost at home since Lawrence North beat them 64-60 in overtime two years ago.
“It’s just a growth process,” McKee said. “We have a lot of players playing big minutes who have not done it before. Everything about today is fine if we learn from it and come back and do what we should do. If we don’t learn from today, then the loss is doubly bad.”