North girls win opener: Balanced attack overcomes slow start

NEW ALBANY — Going into the season, a big question mark with the Columbus North girls basketball team was where the scoring was going to come from.

But after losing their top three scorers to graduation, North saw some former role players step into bigger roles in Tuesday night’s opener at New Albany. Four players scored at least nine points in a 63-52 win.

“We know we have different people that are capable of scoring, but that’s never been their role,” North coach Pat McKee said. “Are they going to step up to the moment and do it, which they certainly can, or will they be a little overwhelmed by the moment? Tonight, we had some kids who were able to step up and do their thing.”

Sophomore Tessa Lomax came off the bench to lead the North with 15 points. Lomax had been sick and missed a couple of practices late last week.

Senior point guard Kenzie Patberg added 13 points. Nadia Lomax scored 10 points, and Jenna Borger had nine.

“We had a lot of good things, but we still have a lot to work on,” Patberg said. “We have Martinsville coming up (on Friday), so we have to keep working and not just stop here.”

North came out cold shooting the ball. It made only one of its first eight and two of its first 13 shots and fell behind 11-7 in the final minute of the first quarter.

Tessa Lomax then scored from inside, and Chelsi Giesige sank a 3-pointer to give North its first lead at 12-11 after one period.

“I think that at the beginning, we were a little nervous,” Patberg said. “The first game, we were going game speed. We’re going fast. But I think we finally got our feet under us and started making them.”

After New Albany regained the lead in the opening seconds of the second quarter, Borger hit a 3-pointer to give North the lead for good. North built the lead to 32-20 at halftime.

Nadia Lomax scored eight of her 10 points in the third quarter to allow North to build the lead to 48-33.

“There were a lot of good things,” McKee said. “There were a few things we can clean up. I think the early missed shots were probably a little first-game jitters. We rushed some things, kind of threw it up there a little bit early. But they somewhere along the way found a comfort zone and played a lot better. I thought the second quarter and the third quarter were both really good quarters.”

North led by as many as 18 when an Annie Anderson basket made it 54-36 with 6 minutes left in the game. New Albany then went on a 9-2 run to cut the lead to 56-45 with 4:05 remaining.

A basket by Giesege and three free throws from Patberg pushed the lead back to 61-45 before New Albany finished the game on another 9-2 run to make the final score closer.

“There are things we can do better,” McKee said. “We broke down on defense a few times. We missed some easy shots. We got confused on offense and didn’t run plays exactly right a few times. But I don’t want to dwell on that because we ran a lot of plays really well. There was way more good than bad.”

Kelsy Taylor, who at 6-foot 2 had a height advantage on the tallest North players, led New Albany with 15 points and seven rebounds. North outrebounded New Albany 36-27, led by six boards apiece from Borger, Nadia Lomax and Liz Tynan.

North will face one of the state’s top teams on Friday and a Miss Basketball candidate in Kayana Traylor, who has committed to Purdue.

“There were a few things we could have improved on, so also we have to be prepared to play even harder the next game against Martinsville,” Tessa Lomax said.

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