The way they began Thursday night’s Subway/Columbus North Invitational opener, the host Bull Dogs’ unbeaten streak in the tournament was in jeopardy.
But after a sluggish first half, North began to take control midway through the third quarter and pulled away for a 63-50 win against Evansville Memorial.
“I think we were all pretty disappointed in our first-half play in general,” North senior point guard Ashlyn Huffman said. “There was no energy on either end. We weren’t aggressive. We didn’t do as well as we could, but we did better and gave some more effort and pulled it out.”
The Bull Dogs (9-3) will play Mooresville (10-4) in today’s semifinals at 11:45 a.m. The loser will play the loser of the Center Grove-Zionsville semifinal in the third-place game at 5:15 p.m., and the winners will play for the championship at 7 p.m.
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North faced its biggest deficit at 14-8 in the closing seconds of the first quarter before coming to life. Jenna Borger hit a 3-pointer with 4 seconds left to cut the lead in half. Then, Kenzie Patberg stole the inbounds pass and hit a 15-footer at the buzzer to cut the lead to 14-13.
The lead then changed hands five times in the second quarter, with the Bull Dogs clinging to a 26-25 lead at the break.
The Tigers (5-3) came back to take a 34-32 lead midway through the third quarter. North then went on a 12-1 run, capped by a three-point play from Borger, to take a 44-35 lead in the closing seconds of the third quarter.
Memorial never got closer than seven in the final period, and the Bull Dogs’ lead grew to as big as 61-45 with 1:45 remaining.
“The first half was not the way we were supposed to play,” North coach Pat McKee said. “When we play like that, we’re not going to win many games. We talked about bringing more energy. They did respond and brought more. It wasn’t perfect, but in this game, it was good enough.”
Maliah Howard-Bass led the Bull Dogs with 20 points. Huffman finished with 14, while Imani Guy and Borger each added 10.
Guy grabbed nine rebounds to lead North to a 28-17 advantage on the boards.
Junior Kat Norman played the final few seconds of the third quarter, her first action this season after tearing an ACL in the summer.