Perry Meridian spoiled Columbus North’s perfect Conference Indiana season last year, and the Falcons were intent on doing the same thing Saturday afternoon.

This time, however, the Bull Dog girls withstood a charge from Perry Meridian and posted a 53-45 home victory in a battle between the two conference unbeatens. North can clinch at least a tie for its seventh straight conference title with a win Saturday against Bloomington South.

“(Perry Meridian is) just a very physical team, and they always give us one of our best games,” North senior Kenzie Patberg said. “We were both undefeated in Conference Indiana, and they were going to give us their all.”

The Bull Dogs (13-4, 5-0) used an 11-0 run to turn an early 6-3 deficit into a 14-6 lead. Freshman Alexa McKinley came off the bench to score the final four points of that spurt.

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North led 28-21 at halftime, but the Falcons (6-11, 4-1) scored the first seven points of the third quarter to tie the game. It was tied at 30-30 with five minutes left in the third quarter when the Bull Dogs went on a 13-1 run to take control.

Liz Tynan’s basket gave North the lead for good, and Nadia Lomax added a basket. After a Perry Meridian free throw, Jenna Borger hit a 3-pointer, Annie Anderson scored and Borger added a basket to close the third quarter and two free throws to open the fourth for a 43-31 lead.

The Falcons got back to within 47-42 with 3:08 remaining, but North made 6 of 8 free throws in the final 2:33 to hang on for the win.

“We had a lot of unforced turnovers, and I think our minds weren’t always in the game,” Borger said. “So we need to be more focused.”

The Bull Dogs committed 22 turnovers, matching Perry Meridian’s turnover total.

“It wasn’t our best game,” North coach Pat McKee said. “We turned the ball over more than we wanted, and some were unforced errors, but we also made a number of good plays.”

Borger finished with 11 points, and Patberg added 10 to lead the Bull Dogs. Tessa Lomax grabbed 10 rebounds to lead North to a 23-18 advantage on the boards.

Sadie Hill led the Falcons with 14 points and nine rebounds. The Bull Dogs held Perry Meridian to 36.1 percent (13 of 36) shooting from the field.

“Some of those points that they got were off our turnovers and mistakes, and I thought we fouled too much, and they had quite a few free throws on us,” McKee said. “Really, our half-court defense was actually pretty good.”

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