Columbus North girls basketball coach Pat McKee and his staff have been preaching to the Bull Dogs to play all 32 minutes without any kind of a letdown.

North came close to that Friday night in an 83-27 win against Bloomington North. The Bull Dogs scored the game’s first 27 points and never looked back.

“I think that the bench and the coaches were really encouraging, and they gave us good energy,” said Jenna Borger, who came off the bench to score 12 points. “Coaches have been talking lately that we need to finish games, so we try to play hard the whole game.”

The win, coupled with Perry Meridian’s loss to Southport, gives Columbus North (15-5, 6-1) at least a share of its sixth consecutive Conference Indiana title. Those three teams all have one conference loss.

Maliah Howard-Bass scored 11 of her game-high 21 points in the first quarter, when Columbus North jumped out to a 23-0 lead. The Bull Dogs forced 13 of the Cougars’ 27 turnovers in the first period.

Back-to-back baskets by Borger to begin the second quarter made it 27-0 before Bloomington North (5-15, 0-6) got on the board with a free throw by Kaitlyn Carver.

Kenzie Patberg scored six of her eight points in the second quarter, and Columbus North pushed the lead to 45-11 at halftime.

“I felt like our energy was high from the beginning, and that led from player to player,” Howard-Bass said. “That’s what got us the lead and the boost into the second quarter. I think we executed as a team, and that’s what brought everyone up.”

Howard-Bass and Imani Guy combined to score the first 11 points of the second half to give the Bull Dogs a 56-11 lead. The advantage was 69-16 after three quarters when McKee emptied his bench.

Howard-Bass and Kat Norman each grabbed five rebounds to lead Columbus North to a 38-24 advantage on the boards. Fourteen of the 15 players to see action for the Bull Dogs scored at least one point, and 14 of the 15 grabbed at least one rebound.

“I thought the energy level was good, no mater who we put in, and that was a really important step,” McKee said. “Hopefully, we will continue to play with that level of energy.”

Columbus North has a quick turnaround before traveling to Louisville Mercy Academy tonight. The Bull Dogs will play the host school at around 7:30 p.m. in the seventh of eight games in today’s Raatz Fence/O’Shea’s Classic.

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5628.