WHITELAND — Columbus North’s girls basketball team had beaten Whiteland each of the past six seasons, but the Bull Dogs knew that extending that streak wasn’t going to be easy against a Warriors team that came in unbeaten on its home floor this season.
On Tuesday night, Whiteland was able to counter every punch that the Bull Dogs threw, riding a big night from Miss Basketball candidate Mackenzie Blazek to a 62-56 overtime victory.
Blazek finished with 25 points, including the last six of the game, as well as 16 rebounds and six blocked shots.
“They made all of the plays they needed to make to win,” North coach Pat McKee said.
An Annie Anderson putback with 3:18 left in the extra frame gave the Bull Dogs (16-6) their final lead of the night at 56-54, but two Toni Joyner foul shots knotted the score on the Warriors’ next possession and Blazek got the decisive points when she converted a three-point play with 2:23 to go.
North was unable to score the rest of the way, and Blazek put the game on ice with three free throws in the final seconds.
“I think we made her work,” McKee said. “She’s a great player and made some plays.”
Down by eight after Blazek opened the second period with two free throws, the Bull Dogs outscored the Warriors 12-2 over the next 5:35, taking their first lead on a Nadia Lomax layup with 1:41 in the half. Whiteland (18-4) regained the upper hand almost immediately on consecutive 3s by Megan Harlow and Taylor Klenner, however, and went into the intermission with a 30-27 edge.
North tied the game three times in the third quarter and then took a 43-41 lead on two Tessa Lomax free throws 10 seconds into the fourth. Whiteland responded with six straight points, including back-to-back buckets by Blazek that made it 49-45 at the 4:40 mark, but the visitors again clawed their way back, drawing even at 50-50 on a Tessa Lomax putback with 1:47 to go.
Harlow knocked down a go-ahead 3-pointer at the other end 14 seconds later, and the Warriors forced a turnover with 26.4 seconds left, but after Harlow made a free throw to put Whiteland up 54-51, Kelsey Patberg connected on a corner 3 with 14.3 seconds remaining to force the eighth deadlock of the night.
A Harlow jumper at the fourth-quarter horn rimmed out.
Jenna Borger and Tessa Lomax each scored 13 points to pace the Bull Dogs, while Nadia Lomax added 10 off the bench. Harlow contributed 11 points for Whiteland.
Despite the loss, McKee remains confident in his team as the postseason approaches. He’s just looking for the Bull Dogs to make the necessary small fixes in the games to come.
“We did a lot of good things, but we made a few too many mistakes,” McKee said. “We’ve got to clean up our mistakes. … Our goal is to make routine plays consistently well.”