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Big quarters push North over Falcons

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INDIANAPOLIS — After knocking off five consecutive ranked opponents, including a team ranked No. 2 in the country in one poll, the Columbus North girls might have been due for a letdown Saturday afternoon.

It only lasted a quarter of each half.

The Class 4A No. 1 Bull Dogs overcame sluggish first and third quarters by playing one of their best quarters of basketball in the second period. That was more than enough to send them on their way to their 30th consecutive regular-season win, a 59-32 Conference Indiana rout at Perry Meridian.

“We’ve beaten a lot of good teams that we weren’t sure we could beat, and that’s a big thing for us,” said Hanna Ballard, the team’s lone senior. “We just need to keep pushing to get our goal of going to state again this season.”

North (16-0, 4-0) led the Falcons (4-8, 1-3) 14-9 after one quarter when the Bull Dogs got rolling. They forced 10 turnovers in the second period in outscoring Perry 19-4 to take a 33-13 halftime lead.

“Our defense and ball movement was a lot better, which helped us a lot to get some good runs in,” Ballard said.

“The second quarter, our bench was really strong, and that’s awesome,” said sophomore Ali Patberg, who led the Bull Dogs with 21 points and eight rebounds. “Our offense wasn’t clicking great, so we just cranked up our defense. We know defense is going to win games.”

After being outscored 13-11 in the third quarter, North finished the game on a 15-6 spurt.

Tayler Goodall scored 10 points for the Bull Dogs. Paige Littrell went 3 of 3 from the field, including 2 of 2 from 3-point range, to add score points, and Ballard added six points and six rebounds.

North outrebounded the Falcons 34-19. The Bull Dogs committed 17 turnovers and forced 23.

“I think we were a little rusty,” Patberg said. “At least I was a little rusty because I had quite a few turnovers.”

“I think that we were tired playing today, but Perry played good, so it was still a good game for us,” Ballard said.

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