FRANKLIN — Columbus North’s girls basketball team had defeated Franklin each of the teams’ past seven meetings, and the Bull Dogs had won the past four by at least 15 points each, but the host Grizzly Cubs were more competitive Tuesday night.
Franklin, however, couldn’t overcome a rough second quarter and solid North depth. Nine of the 11 Bull Dogs players Tuesday scored, and their bench was a key factor in an 11-0 run that spanned the first and second quarters and propelled North to a 52-43 victory.
The Bull Dogs (13-5) produced 21 bench points to Franklin’s four, and North’s bench players scored all but two of their second-quarter points, when they outscored the Grizzly Cubs 16-4.
Jenna Borger, who came off the bench to tie Kenzie Patberg for team-high scoring honors with nine points, scored seven in the second quarter. She converted a three-point play and then a transition layup to complete the 11-0 run, then added a putback basket off a turnover. That 11-0 spurt turned a 12-8 Franklin lead into a 19-12 Bull Dogs advantage.
“When we subbed, we got hot,” North coach Pat McKee said. “Jenna’s capable of scoring quickly and in bunches. The kids who played in the second quarter played really well.”
That bench scoring also led to a balanced overall scoring effort. In addition to Borger and Patberg’s nine points apiece, Tessa Lomax added eight, followed by Imani Guy and Maliah Howard-Bass with seven apiece.
The Bull Dogs’ lead swelled to 33-18 with 6:29 remaining in the third quarter, but Franklin (10-9) wasn’t done. A 12-2 run that spanned the late third and early fourth quarters cut North’s lead to 40-37 with 6:24 to play, after the Grizzly Cubs’ Makenna Bertsch hit a 3-pointer. But Franklin never drew any closer. The Bull Dogs hit 12 of 13 free throws overall, and made all four of their fourth-quarter attempts.
“We did a better job late of making the routine play and closing out on their shooters instead of trying for blocks,” McKee said of the North’s late-game defense.
Franklin coach Josh Sabol credited the Bull Dogs’ defense with stemming the Grizzly Cubs’ strong start.
“Our ball movement and player movement was outstanding in the first quarter, but (North) plays multiple defenses, and when they changed a couple of times, we started to force some passes,” Sabol said. “Columbus North is one of the top teams in the state, and a game like this proves we can play with anyone. The trick for me is to get the girls to believe that night in and night out.”