The Whiteland girls basketball team was looking for its third win in a row when it traveled to Columbus North but came up short.
The Warriors (10-12) got a solid game out of junior Mackenzie Blazek, but her 23 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks were not enough to stop the 66-56 loss to the Bull Dogs.
Jessica Napier scored all five of her field goals off of 3-pointers. Whiteland coach Kyle Shipp said there still some things that his team needs to work on but he is proud of the effort, especially from Blazek.
“I thought she played really, really solid,” Shipp said. “She only came out for a bout 30 seconds. That what Mackenzie normally does, she gets in there and bangs. She is a person that puts the ball in the basket for us, rebounds and defends.”
North (16-6) had a 25-point first quarter and began the second with an 11 point-lead. The Bull Dogs pulled away even further after holding Whiteland to just nine second-quarter points and five 3-pointers in the first half from North’s Howard-Bass helped create the 43-25 halftime lead.
The Warriors did not go away quietly, opening the second half with a 5-0 run, and Blazek did all she could to give Whiteland a chance near the end.
Blazek scored 16 points in the second half to help bring the Warriors within six points early in the forth quarter. Whiteland ended the third quarter on a 9-2 run and continued to fight the rest of the game.
The Warriors were down 61-54 with 2:25 remaining when the Bull Dogs decided to play keepaway and kill more than a minute off the clock before Whiteland decided to foul. After North’s Maliah Howard-Bass knocked down two free throws, Whiteland was down by nine points with just over a minute remaining and did not have enough time to come back.
Shipp liked what he saw out of his team late in the second half.
“We were able to get some defensive stops and get ourselves into transition and get into some offensive flow a little bit instead of taking the ball out of the basket in the first half especially by Howard-Bass and (Ashlyn) Huffman,” Shipp said.
Howrad-Bass and Huffman combined for 36 points for the Bull Dogs and were a big reason why Whiteland struggled to stop North from scoring.
Whiteland has one game left before the postseason starts at Mooresville on Friday, and Shipp said he is still pleased with how his team has played the second half of the season.
“We’ve been playing pretty well the back half of the season.” Shipp said. “We want to make sure that this game prepares us to play Mooresville on Friday night, and that was the message was there at the end of the game. We use this as a steppingstone.”