The way Columbus North started the girls basketball season in the opening quarter Tuesday night, it looked like it would roll to another lopsided win.
New Albany had other ideas.
North had trouble shaking the visitors all night and had to hang on for a 65-55 victory.
“I didn’t know what to expect from the first game, but I really liked our effort,” North assistant coach Brett White said. “I thought we played hard from start to finish. Obviously, we have some things to clean up, but New Albany was a good test for us. They were pretty athletic, pretty strong, and we did enough to win.”
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North came out on fire early, hitting its first seven shots from the field and all six of its free throws in the first quarter. It built leads of 8-0, 13-2 and 17-4 before New Albany (1-1) got things going.
Maliah Howard-Bass scored 10 of her game-high 25 points in the first quarter, which ended with a 21-16 North advantage.
New Albany cut the lead to three on two occasions early in the second quarter. North stretched the lead back to 36-26 on a Howard-Bass 3-pointer with 1:46 left in the first half and led 36-28 at the break.
North forced New Albany into 10 first-half turnovers.
“We did really well on defense,” Howard-Bass said. “We didn’t expect to come out and be as aggressive as we did. We kind of came together more as a team. I felt like we knew where each other were going to be. We put each other in position to be successful.”
Jenna Borger came off the bench to score eight of her career-high 15 points in the second quarter.
“At first I was nervous, but I had a pretty good week of practice, and (head coach) Pat (McKee) just told us to do the best we could, so I just went out there and tried to do the best I could,” Borger said.
New Albany got to within 45-41 with 2:11 left in the third quarter, but a basket by Howard-Bass and a 3-pointer by Borger stretched the lead back to nine. New Albany came as close as six twice early in the fourth quarter, but North was able to keep the visitors at bay.
North shot 51.1 percent (23 of 45) from the field and outrebounded New Albany 23-22.
“We played a lot better than our scrimmage against Brownstown, but we still have a lot to improve on,” Borger said. “We had streaks of good and streaks of bad, but overall, I think we did pretty well.”
Imani Guy added 10 points and led North with five rebounds. Kenzie Patberg, filling in for the injured Ashlyn Huffman at point guard, scored nine points in her first varsity start.
Liz Tynan and freshman Tessa Lomax also made their first varsity starts for North, which visits Martinsville on Friday.
“We’re pleased with how we performed,” Howard-Bass said. “Of course, there’s always more to improve on, but we have a couple more practices until Martinsville, so hopefully we improve.”