INDIANAPOLIS — The Columbus North girls basketball team went on the road to face another highly ranked opponent in Roncalli on Thursday and came away with a 53-40 victory.
It wasn’t a pretty contest, full of highlight plays, but rather a tough, hard-fought battle the Bull Dogs were able to escape from with a win.
Ali Patberg, playing in her first game since being announced as a McDonald’s All-American, struggled out of the gate, unable to find the basket until late in the first quarter.
It was her teammates, namely Elle Williams early, who had nine of her 11 points in the first, that carried the load from the start.
“It was frustrating, but my teammates played well,” Patberg said. “That’s going to happen. They were there for me, and I couldn’t have asked for a better performance from them.
“It was a little shaky, personally,” she added. “I was a little tired. That’s not a good excuse, but I felt like I didn’t have a lot of legs. But we did well as a team.”
Patberg was named a McDonald’s All-American on Wednesday.
“(Wednesday) was a really big day for me,” Patberg said. “I was nervous. It was a long, emotional day for me, so I think I’m just worn out from that. When I was out there playing I felt better, just tired.”
Roncalli was missing its leading scorer, Lindsey Corsaro, who sustained a knee injury against Bedford North Lawrence on Saturday.
The Class 4A No. 3 Bull Dogs (20-1) took a 26-17 lead into the locker room, but it was clearly anybody’s game to win. A 17-5 third quarter for North, which included a 10-0 run to close the period with baskets from Patberg and Imani Guy, seemed to shut the door on the Rebels, who trailed 43-22 after three.
“We went over defense and containing the ball,” Patberg said of the team’s halftime adjustments. “They’re a team that wants to beat you off the dribble and create shots off of that. We talked about pushing the ball and doing what we do well, and just staying focused.”
The Rebels (17-6), though, refused to go away. They closed the gap to as few as 13 at 49-36 in the final quarter. But the Bull Dogs’ superior ball control and their ability to get defensive stops when they needed to sealed the victory.
North begins the postseason in less than two weeks, and a victory against a highly ranked team this late in the season could bode well for their prospects.
“This is an important game for us,” North coach Pat McKee said. “Not only did we add this game because they’re a quality opponent, but we put it late in the season on purpose so that we would get a push like this. We need this kind of pressure.”
“They’re a quality team and they never gave up,” Patberg said. “Teams are going to pressure us and make us handle the ball, and I think we handled the ball well. It’s a quality team that we beat, so confidence for all of us.”