Leader of the pack

It was the Monday after her Columbus North girls basketball team was crowned as state champion, and senior Ali Patberg faced an unusual situation.

She had gone to school, but no practice was on the schedule and no games were impending.

“There wasn’t anyone else left,” she said.

That’s because the Bull Dogs disposed of everyone on their way to a 28-1 season and the Class 4A state championship.

Story continues below gallery

Patberg was going to work out, but she said, “my mom made me take a couple of days off.”

It truly was a time to reflect on her amazing season, one which earned her The Republic’s Player of the Year award for girls basketball.

Until her team’s championship victory against Homestead, Patberg had said her favorite time in high school basketball was her team’s voyage to the state title game her freshman season. That moment has been replaced by an even better one.

“I would say so,” said Patberg with a smile that hasn’t left her face since the March 7 win at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. “This whole season has been the best. I’ve never been with a closer family. These teammates, I’m so used to seeing them every day.”

The state championship eased the sting of finality after Patberg played her final game. “It was the last time, that was weird for me to think about,” she said.

Like much of her career, Patberg took over the game against Homestead when her team needed her. North was down by 11 points at the start of the third quarter when Patberg carried the burden on her shoulders. She scored 19 second-half points in leading the Bull Dogs back to a 62-56 victory.

Patberg finished the title game with 31 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists. She averaged 25.9 points for the season along with 8.8 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 3.1 steals.

She said her work with personal trainer Shon Bolden helped her to acquire a new level of play this season.

“My mentality changed,” she said. “I grew as a person. Before, if I would miss a shot, I would let it bother me. Now if I have a bad first half, like I did against Homestead, I don’t think about that stuff. I am so much more relaxed.

“Shon also taught me how to take care of my body. I really still go, go, go, but I used to go even more.”

Now she is going to Notre Dame.

“The training I did this last offseason really was college training, so I don’t think things will be a lot different,” she said. “I already do a lot, work a lot. I will be looking at a lot more film.”

Patberg owns Columbus North career records for points, assists and steals.