After one quarter of play on Thursday night at Columbus North, some were probably thinking that the nationally ranked No. 14 Bull Dogs could be looking at their first loss of the season.
Not so fast.
North, down 21-12 to Southport after the first quarter, took all of two minutes to regain its lead in the second quarter and drive to a 67-56 Conference Indiana victory against the Cardinals.
North raised its record to 18-0 overall and 5-0 in Conference Indiana, while Southport dropped to 7-6 and 1-4.
A pair of baskets and a three-point play by North sophomore Ali Patberg were combined with two 3-point goals by North’s Paige Littrell and Tayler Goodall, and North found itself up 25-23 early in the second quarter.
A 10-0 run by North capped off an outstanding defensive second quarter, where the Bull Dogs outscored Southport 25-9.
When talking about North’s slow first quarter, Patberg said the Bull Dogs weren’t “playing like they had North on their shorts.”
“We just didn’t come out with the energy that we needed to,” Patberg said. “Coach (Pat Mc-Kee) always emphasizes the importance of having energy and playing like we want to win, and we did not look like we wanted it at the beginning of this game.”
Thirteen of Patberg’s 16 first-half points came in the second quarter, putting North up 37-30 going into halftime.
Southport came out strong in the second half, challenging North on defense and coming to within four points early in the fourth quarter.
However, a steal by North’s Kelsey Cunningham and a pass to Patberg for a basket with four minutes left in the game fueled a 10-0 run by the Bull Dogs to put the game out of reach of the Cardinals.
Patberg led North with 25 points while Goodall added 23 and Hanna Ballard had eight.
Ballard emphasized the importance of communication and leadership on the court.
“We knew we did not come out as hard as we needed to, and we did not come out ready to play,” Ballard said. “That sort of play is not acceptable in our minds. We all have pretty even leadership roles, and everyone knows their role well and that is how we are able to keep our heads up.”
Hannah Poindexter had four points for North while Cunningham added two and freshman Littrell had five points off the bench for the Bull Dogs.
Southport’s Grace Clark led the Cardinals in scoring with 17, followed by Shayla Wright with 16 while Bria Wright added 13.