Columbus North’s girls basketball team had defeated Franklin each of the teams’ past seven meetings, and the Bull Dogs had won the past four by at least 15 points each.
The host Grizzly Cubs were more competitive Tuesday but couldn’t overcome a rough second quarter and solid Columbus North depth. Nine of the 11 Bull Dogs scored, and the bench was a key factor in an 11-0 run that spanned the first and second quarters and propelled North to a 52-43 victory.
Columbus North (13-5) produced 21 bench points to Franklin’s four, and Bull Dogs’ bench players scored all but two of their points in the second quarter, when they outscored the Grizzly Cubs 16-4.
Jenna Borger, who came off the bench to tie Kenzie Patberg for team-high scoring honors with nine points, scored seven in the second quarter. She converted a three-point play and then a transition layup to complete the 11-0 spurt, which turned a 12-8 Franklin lead into a 19-12 North advantage.
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“When we subbed, we got hot,” Bull Dogs coach Pat McKee said. “Jenna’s capable of scoring quickly and in bunches. The kids who played in the second quarter played really well.”
That bench scoring also led to a balanced overall scoring effort. Tessa Lomax added eight points for North, followed by Imani Guy and Maliah Howard-Bass with seven apiece.
The Bull Dogs’ lead swelled to 33-18 with 6:29 remaining in the third quarter, but Franklin (10-9) wasn’t done. A 12-2 run that spanned the late third and early fourth quarters cut North’s lead to 40-37 with 6:24 to play, when the Grizzly Cubs’ Makenna Bertsch hit a 3-pointer.
But Franklin never drew any closer. The Bull Dogs hit 12 of 13 free throws overall and made all four of their fourth-quarter attempts.
“We did a better job late of making the routine play and closing out on their shooters, instead of trying for blocks,” McKee said of the Bull Dogs’ late-game defense.
Franklin coach Josh Sabol credited North’s defense with negating the Grizzly Cubs’ strong start.
“Our ball movement and player movement was outstanding in the first quarter, but (Columbus North) plays multiple defenses, and when they changed a couple of times, we started to force some passes,” Franklin coach Josh Sabol said. “Columbus North is one of the top teams in the state, and a game like this proves we can play with anyone. The trick for me is to get the girls to believe that night in and night out.”
Bertsch and Allison Barnard shared game-high scoring honors with 12 points apiece for the Grizzly Cubs, and Barnard pulled down a game-best seven rebounds.