NORTH VERNON — Jennings County only had one lead — at 3-2 early in the game.
It was very short-lived.
Columbus North got into rhythm and there was no way of stopping the the Bull Dogs. They used a 21-3 run in the first half to quickly put away the Panthers en route to a 62-40 girls basketball win.
The Bull Dogs (11-4) picked up a huge piece of the team’s puzzle Tuesday as junior Kat Norman returned from her ACL injury. Technically, she briefly played for eight seconds during a holiday tournament game, but this is her first full game back. She played some minutes earlier during a junior varsity contest after missing the first half of the season with the knee injury.
“I was really excited to get back out on the court and help my teammates out,” Norman said. “It has been a long time but it feels like I am getting better helping my teammates more.”
North did a great job of moving the basketball early as it left Ashlyn Huffman open for a couple of 3-point baskets. Imani Guy also did a lot of damage inside and the Panthers’ defense did not have an answer. The Bull Dogs had a 36-13 lead at halftime.
“We have really been focusing on in practice was pushing the ball and getting in transition,” said Huffman, who scored all of her game-high 14 points in the first half. “We did a good job of that and stepping up on defense and we just tried to step up on them from the beginning.”
It was a very steep mountain to climb, but Jennings County (5-10) started getting hot shooting in the third quarter. Alexus Brown hit a couple of jumpers and Sidney Gerkin 3-pointer got it to within 44-23. Three free throws from Guy and a couple of buckets from Liz Tynan put the game away to extend the lead to 51-24.
Gerkin finished with a team high 12 points for the Panthers. Macy Roth added eight.
“We had chances but we did not knock down shots,” Jennings coach Kristi Sigler said. “We came out in the second half and the effort was there. They flat out played hard. If that kind of effort continues to happen, good things are going to come for this group.”
Guy added 13 points for North.
“The first half, we played well, but the second half was a little sloppy,” North coach Pat McKee said. “We got everyone in tonight and we need to give the kids an opportunity to grow. The bench players who do not play as much got some minutes depending on the circumstance and that’s really good.”