OSSIAN — The point totals weren’t the only statistic lighting up the scoreboard Friday night when Columbia City (5-3) girls’ basketball team took to the conference road at class 3A’s No. 3 Norwell Lady Knights.
Blocking fouls, shooting fouls, over-the-back fouls, whatever it was sounding off.
In the first half alone, the two Northeast Hoosier Conference rivals combined for 25 fouls and 35 free throw attempts.
Free throws and a game-high 21 points by senior guard Kayla Dunn kept Columbia City in the game by the halftime break. However, the defending conference champions used players back from a 21-1 season last year to gain a lopsided win 79-54.
Columbia City first NHC road test comes on the heels of a close loss to Carroll to open conference play last week 52-46.
Much of what plagued the Lady Eagles against the Chargers also came back to haunt them Friday.
A poor shooting stretch in the first quarter saw City fall behind Norwell fast. Junior six-foot-two-inch center Jessica Rupright made herself be known in the paint for the Knights.
Rupright scored eight of her 12 points in the first quarter pushing Norwell’s lead to as much as nine points 15-6.
Columbia City only answer on offense was Kayla Dunn. The Eagles top scorer from a season ago helped City hang close for much of the first half scoring 11 of her 21 points in the first 16 minutes of play.
After taking a 15-10 lead into the second quarter, Norwell pushed its lead into double digits for the first time on two free throws by Rupright.
The Knights in all went 17-for-19 on free throws in the first half not missing any of its 12 attempts in the second quarter.
Columbia City countered shooting 6-for-10 from the field in the second. Dunn again led the way cutting into the Norwell lead before the half.
A back door pass to Dunn from fellow senior Sierra Burlage dwindled the lead down to its lowest since early in the first quarter, 31-27.
Under a minute to go in the first half, Norwell finished on a 7-1 run to get the lead back to 10 points.
The Lady Knights went into the locker room with momentum on a three-point buzzer beater by Jessica Louison. The shot carried Norwell through the second half.
The Knights shot 9-of-14 from the field in the third quarter. Columbia City turnovers only fueled the 20-8 scoring advantage in the third quarter for Norwell.
Four Lady Knights had scored in double figured. Sophomore Taylor Wilson led them all with 15 points.