Defense leads North girls past Owls

Kylah Lawson

Defense was the story for Columbus North in Tuesday’s night matchup with Seymour.

The Bull Dogs put on the pressure most of the night against the Owls, and it proved to be a difference in a 60-42 girls basketball win.

“(The defense) got us going, and usually that’s what we hang our hat on is our defensive stops and pressure,” North coach Brett White said. “Anytime you can get turnovers and live ball turnovers and turn them into layups, that obviously gets the energy level up and the excitement going.”

The North defense put the pressure on Seymour (5-6) early, while offensively, the Bull Dogs (7-3) hit a couple of 3-point shots to go ahead 8-2. Kendall Sterling had all of the Owls six points to make it 12-6 after the first quarter.

North utilized the press once more that led to some transition basket to expand the lead to 16-6. Seymour didn’t have much of an answer offensively. Free throws also were key in the first half. The Bull Dogs converted 12 of 14 from the line, and the Owls were 2 of 8 from the line. North turned up its intensity defensively, which led to more offense at the other end, and it led 31-13 at the half.

Seymour knocked down several baskets to start the second half to cut the deficit to 34-22. The Bull Dogs went back to the full-court press that led to a couple Owls turnovers and points at the other end. It led to North going on a 7-0 run that capped with a steal from Lauren Barker, who then dished it to Kayla Jones for the layup that forced a Seymour timeout.

Following the timeout, the Owls gave the Bull Dogs a taste of their own medicine by enabling the full-court press. It caught North off guard and Seymour took advantage by finishing out the third quarter on a 9-1 run to cut it to 44-31 heading into the fourth quarter.

The Owls got it to within 52-41 midway through the fourth, but the Bull Dogs held up defensively to prevent any rally.

“We knew they were going to keep coming at us. They weren’t going to fold. We talked about how we got to maintain our energy level no matter we’re up 18 or up eight, it doesn’t matter,” White said. “We didn’t necessarily do that all the time, but we knew we were going to have to withstand some pressure, and late in the game, we handled the basketball well and got some easy shots, so we accomplished what we wanted too.”

Free throws were also big for North, which finished 21 of 28 from the line, with Seymour shooting only 11 of 19.

“At times, we haven’t shot the ball well from the free throw line,” White said. “It was better than it had been the past few games. Anytime when you can get free ones at the line, we’ll take it.”

For North, Kylah Lawson finished with a game-high 21 points. Jones had 17, and Barker hit four 3-pointers to finish with 15.