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No. 1 Columbus North rolls to win vs. Franklin

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FRANKLIN — With a large lead, the Columbus North girls basketball team went deep to the bench.

Fifteen deep in fact, and all 10 subs helped out.

The bench combined for 23 points on 7-of-15 shooting and grabbed 13 rebounds to help lead the Class 4A No. 1 Bull Dogs to a 63-18 victory against host Franklin on Tuesday night.

Junior starter Kelsey Cunningham, who scored a game-high 11 points, knows having a strong bench helps the team.

“It gives them experience, and if any of us get in foul trouble, which happens a lot, they’re always ready to step up,” she said.

Sophomore Megan Bandy led the subs with eight points, drilling both her 3-pointers and a couple free throws.

“I was just hoping (the 3-pointers would) go in,” Bandy said.

She said she felt confident, figuring it was her best varsity game ever.

“It kind of makes you just want to work harder in practice and be able to play,” she said.

With Cunningham and Bandy’s help, Columbus North made 9 of 15 3-pointers.

“That’s not something that you can defend when you shoot the ball that well,” said Franklin coach Walt Raines. “They move the ball so well, they’re going to get open looks.”

Cunningham hit all three of her attempts, two of them on back-to-back possessions in the second quarter that gave the Bull Dogs a 30-9 lead.

“I’ve gotten more confident with my shot lately because we’ve been working on shooting a lot more in practice,” Cunningham said. “So it’s really helped me out.”

With a 34-11 halftime lead, the Bull Dogs (19-0) held Franklin scoreless in the third quarter to take a 49-11 lead into the fourth.

Raines said Columbus North is a very good, solid, fundamental basketball team.

“That’s a very, very good basketball team, probably as disciplined of a team as any team I’ve seen in a long, long time,” he said.

The Grizzly Cubs made just 7 of 42 field goals and had 17 turnovers, eight in the first quarter.

Freshman Whitney Shapp scored four points and grabbed five rebounds. Senior Kylie Whittington added four points.

“We did not play very well in a lot of areas, but a lot of that has to do with Columbus North,” Raines said.

Franklin (6-10) played patient and only trailed 8-5 halfway through the first quarter. But then the Bull Dogs used a 14-2 run to take a 22-7 lead into the second quarter.

“It was a good push for our team,” Cunningham said. “A lot of times we get ahead and then teams catch up with us. We just have to push and make our shots and get a bigger lead than usual and let our bench players come off and help us out.”

Columbus North sophomore Ali Patberg had eight points, six rebounds and a couple of steals.

Franklin plays at Mid-State Conference opponent Whiteland at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. Columbus North plays at Conference Indiana rival Bloomington South at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.

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