The Columbus North girls basketball team made one big comeback Friday afternoon. A second fell just a little short Friday night.
The Bull Dogs rallied from a 12-point deficit to get within two and had chances to tie and take the lead in the Subway/Columbus North Invitational championship game against Zionsville. But the Class 4A No. 4 Eagles withstood the run and held on for a 55-49 win.
“(North coach Pat McKee) said we’ve been in this position before in past games like this morning, and we can pull it out if we come together and get more defensive stops,” senior Imani Guy said.
Unfortunately for the Bull Dogs (10-4), they couldn’t stop Rachel McLimore. The DePaul recruit scored 25 points to keep North at bay all night.
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The Eagles (15-1) held their biggest lead at 42-30 in the closing seconds of the third quarter. Ashlyn Huffman then hit a 3-pointer just before the third-quarter buzzer to ignite an 11-3 run that brought North within 45-41 with 5:36 left in the game.
After a McLimore basket, Jenna Borger hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to three. McLimore than sank a free throw before Guy scored to cut it to 48-46.
After McLimore and Huffman traded baskets, the Bull Dogs’ Maliah Howard-Bass came up with a steal, but missed a layup that would have tied the game. North got it back, but a potential go-ahead 3-pointer by Nadia Lomax was just off the mark.
McLimore then hit two free throws, and Howard-Bass made one to cut the lead to 52-49 with 1:22 left. Zionsville’s Annie Tokarek made only 1 of 4 free throws, but then North turned it over with 15 seconds remaining and the Eagles’ Maddie Nolan made a pair of free throws to ice it.
“Give Zionsville credit,” McKee said. “They’re a very good team. They have a lot of weapons. Early in the game, they got out and ran and beat us down the floor a few times and got a nice lead. But I’m proud of the way our kids battled, and this is a step in our process. This is the kind of game we can learn a lot from.”
Guy and Huffman each finished with 13 points and were named to the All-Tournament team. Guy led the Bull Dogs with eight rebounds.
North was plagued by 20 turnovers.
“Despite those issues, we were right there with a team that’s ranked in the top five in the state,” McKee said. “I’m not saying we should have won, but we had our chances, and I think we will continue to get better.”
Earlier in the day, the Bull Dogs rallied from a seven-point deficit midway through the fourth quarter and a four-point deficit in the final minute to send their semifinal game with Mooresville to overtime. North then outscored the Pioneers 6-5 in the extra period to pull out a 65-64 win.
Kenzie Patberg, who made two big free throws late in regulation, made one with 3 seconds left in the extra period to break a 64-64 tie. Mooresville then missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Guy led the Bull Dogs with 19 points. Howard-Bass added 19, and Huffman had 14.
Center Grove beat Mooresville 58-53 in the third-place game. Jeffersonville downed Merrillville 52-32 for fifth place, and Evansville Memorial topped Elkhart Central 56-47 for seventh.