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Bull Dogs roll to easy victory

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Since suffering its first regular-season loss in almost two years three weeks ago, the Columbus North girls basketball team has been steamrolling everything in its path.

Columbus East became the latest team to find itself on the wrong end of a Bull Dog flurry Thursday night. Class 4A No. 5 North scored its fifth consecutive blowout with a 79-43 win against their crosstown rivals.

“There was good balance on offense, and there was great effort and hustle on defense,” North coach Pat Mc-Kee said. “This is three or four games in a row like this, and we’re really pleased.”

The Bull Dogs (8-1) jumped on the Olympians (3-4) from the beginning, leading 17-2 midway through the first quarter and 27-4 seven minutes in. Paige Littrell and Tayler Goodall each hit a pair of 3s, and Littrell scored eight of her 13 points in the period.

“We’ve been practicing good and playing good, and just coming out together and playing hard,” said Ali Patberg, who led North with 16 points and nine rebounds.

“We did start the game well, and that’s good for our players because it gives them confidence, and it also I think creates added stress for the opponent in that now they feel pressure to score a lot quickly,” McKee said. “Maybe that gets them out of their offense a little and makes our defense even a little better.”

East regrouped to outscore the Bull Dogs 15-12 in the second quarter. The Olympians used a 9-0 run late in the half to pull within 39-22 and trailed 41-22 at the break.

“We kind of got tired, and we let down a little on defense, and coach said we weren’t rebounding as well,” Patberg said. “We’ve been trying to run a lot and push the ball up, but we forgot to rebound, and after halftime we picked it back up.”

“East has weapons,” McKee said. “They’re not a bad team, and they showed that in that stretch. Then the third quarter, I think we refocused on some details and did a better job.”

North ended any hopes of an East comeback by outscoring the Olympians 17-3 in the third quarter.

“The key was to come out and play hard, play how we play,” Goodall said. “We always try to come out with fire and energy.”

Goodall finished with 15 points, leaving her three short of 1,000 for her career.

“I wasn’t trying to focus on that before the game, but once I was three points away, I wanted to get it,” Goodall said. “But it’s fine.”

Kelsey Cunningham and Imani Guy each scored 11 points for the Bull Dogs. Allyson Bunch led East with 12.

“We were a little bit more aggressive in the second quarter,” East coach Danny Brown said. “We talked about ‘It’s a long game. You have to keep rolling.’ Shots weren’t falling for us early.”

“They executed so well at their offense. They got us spread out a little bit in that first quarter, got some open 3s and forced us to play man-to-man. We did a decent job in the second quarter on that and finally got some shots to fall. We settled down a little bit and ran our offense a little bit better.”

The Olympians committed 23 turnovers to 13 for North. East outrebounded the Bull Dogs 36-32, led by 11 boards from Gracie Hatton.

“We have a decent rebounding team,” Brown said. “One of the highlights of the game for us tonight was our freshman, Gracie Hatton. I thought she did a heck of a job the first time playing in this rivalry game.”

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