RICHMOND — Columbus North’s quest for a return to a third consecutive girls basketball state finals came up short.
The Bull Dogs battled back from a 12-point first-half deficit to take a one-point lead at the end of the third quarter, 36-35. But Pike regained control and held on for a 52-49 victory Saturday, giving the Red Devils a berth in next Saturday’s Class 4A title game.
A desperation, 75-foot, back-court heave by senior Ashlyn Huffman with less than a second remaining — which could have tied the game — fell far short.
That set off a celebration by the Red Devils as a tearful North squad walked off the court two wins short of a second state title in three years.
“It’s been a crazy season,” Huffman said. “There’s been a lot that’s happened. But I love those girls, and I’m going to miss them a lot.”
Huffman was one of three seniors to play their final game as a Bull Dog.
Another of them, Maliah Howard-Bass, led North with 18 points. She finished as the school’s second all-time leading scorer in girls basketball behind Ali Patberg, whose team won the state title in 2015.
Howard-Bass was a part of that championship run, too.
“I’ve had a good career, but I wouldn’t have had this career without my teammates,” she said. “Just having those teammates behind you helped build the player that I am today.”
Howard-Bass and center Imani Guy, the third senior, have been part of each of the past three regional championship teams at North.
“I’m very proud of myself and my teammates for the legacy we left behind,” Guy said.
Columbus North, the top-ranked team in the state when the season began, finished with a 21-8 record.
“It’s been a crazy season. There’s been a lot that’s happened. But I love those girls, and I’m going to miss them a lot.”
— Columbus North senior Ashlyn Huffman