The Columbus East-Columbus North girls basketball rivalry game at East came down to a one-score for the second consecutive time.
The Bull Dogs survived the Olympians for the 57-54 win which was aided by their ability to shoot free-throws. North scored all of its fourth quarter points by knocking down 13 of 14 free-throws in the final eight minutes.
Nadia Lomax, who went 4 of 4 from the line, said the team put a lot of focus on its free-throw shooting all week.
“Free throws are huge all the time,” North coach Pat McKee said. “This year, most of the time we’ve been good at it, and tonight we were good at it when it counted. That was really, really good for our girls.”
The Bull Dogs (8-2) led 16-15 after the first quarter, but an 8-2 lead to start the second quarter gave the Olympians (7-2) their biggest lead of the game at 23-18. Jenna Borger, who hit four 3-pointers in the first half, kept North in the game by scoring 18 of her 25 points in the first two quarters.
The game was tied at 27 at halftime.
“It felt pretty good to hit some early shots because it helped our team gain momentum,” Borger said. “I think it got us off to the right start.”
A 12-3 North run to start the third quarter gave it a 39-30 lead, but East closed the gap to three before a 3-point buzzer-beater by Liz Tynan pushed it back to six to start the fourth quarter. Tynan scored nine third quarter points on three 3-pointers and ended the game with 11.
“The start of the third quarter I thought was really good for us,” McKee said. “From that point on, we always maintained some kind of lead. We maybe made a mistake or two, but we always recovered with a good play.”
North led by as many as seven points in the fourth quarter, but Addy Galarno led the surge to help bring the Olympians back in it. She scored nine of her 19 points in the fourth quarter to help cut the Bull Dogs lead to 54-51 with 2:15 remaining.
Galarno stepped to the line with East trailing 56-51 with seconds remaining and knocked down the first one to pull within four points. Claire Cunningham grabbed a big offensive rebound to give the Olympians a chance to get closer, and a deep 3-point shot by Whitley Rankin missed and the rebound went to North.
Borger was fouled and hit one of two to give the Bull Dogs a five-point lead with 10 seconds left. East scored another bucket from Kristen Lyons at the buzzer, but ran out of time to complete the comeback.
“Coach (Danny Brown) told us in the locker room at the end of the game, ‘When you’re going to play away, you’ve got to get up by 10 points (early) to get that win at the end of the game,'” Galarno said. “Overall, I was proud of our effort. We’re going to come back harder at the sectional game.”
Tessa Lomax had eight points to go with her nine rebounds and four blocks for North, while Nadia Lomax led the bench with six points.
Lyons scored 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds while blocking three shots for the Olympians.
“There are a lot of things that we can get better at,” Brown said. “Our press was not good, our matchup zone was not good. We have to get better offensively. It was a good effort. We’ll be back. We have a long way to go. We’re still a very good basketball team. We were just one possession away.”