CHICAGO — For the Columbus North girls basketball team during its state championship run, senior point guard Ali Patberg wanted to take the shot when the game was on the line.
During Wednesday night’s McDonald’s All-American Game at the United Center, it was evident that her future might hold something different.
When Patberg and Marina Mabrey entered together late in their East team’s 89-87 victory against the West, Mabrey asked Patberg to get her the ball.
It was a good idea.
Mabrey scored 12 points and earned the game’s co-MVP honors.
Patberg figures to do plenty of passing to Mabrey and another one of her East All-American teammates, Arike Ogunbowale, during the next four years. The three players all are headed to Notre Dame in the fall.
“It was cool to play with them and to see what they like to do, what they’re good at,” Patberg said. “In the future, I’ll know how to be the best teammate to them.”
Patberg, who was named Indiana’s Miss Basketball after leading Columbus North to the Class 4A state title, had a chance to bond this week with Mabrey and Ogunbowale, who was selected the Associated Press Player of the Year in Wisconsin. Patberg and Mabrey had previously played with each other in last year’s USA Basketball tryouts, while Ogunbowale was in a younger group at those tryouts.
“It was a lot of fun,” Mabrey said. “It was like a little sneak peek at next year. I think we formed a better relationship, and I think we’re a little bit closer now. We got to spend time at USA and we got to spend time this week, and we keep getting closer every time.”
While Mabrey and Ogunbowale started for the East on Wednesday and played in the same rotation, Patberg came off the bench and played in the second wave of players.
“We came in to practice Sunday, and they already had the rotations picked out and who we were guarding,” Patberg said. “That kind of stunk. In practice, I played against them all the time, but when we did play with each other, which was very little, it was fun. It was just cool to be here and to bond with them and get to know them better.”
“We kind of have a sense of knowing each other and knowing where each other are on the court, always looking for each other,” Mabrey said. “I had a great time getting to know them better.”
Besides her point total, Mabrey led the East with three steals. Ogunbowale added nine points and three assists. Patberg scored three points on a 3-point basket, led the East with five assists and tied Mabrey and two others with a team-high six rebounds.
“They’re amazing,” Ogunbowale said of her two future teammates. “I’m a 2 (shooting guard), Marina’s a 3 (small forward) and Ali’s a 1 (point guard), so it’s just perfect. Ali is a great guard. She sees the floor well, and Marina’s a great shooter. We play really well together, and I’m super excited.
“It was pretty cool just to see what’s going to be happening for the next four years,” she said. “We all felt really comfortable, so we’re excited.”
Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw, who will lead the Fighting Irish into their fifth consecutive Final Four on Sunday, wasn’t in Chicago on Wednesday, but at least two of her current players were, including Mabrey’s older sister, Michaela.
Michaela Mabrey, a junior, and sophomore Taya Reimer, a Hamilton Southeastern graduate and former travel team teammate of Patberg, drove over from South Bend.
“It’s nice to get a look at them right now,” Michaela Mabrey said. “Obviously, I know what my sister does, but Arike and Ali are very good, so I’m excited to have them next year.”
“It’s going to be a great experience,” Marina Mabrey said. “It’s high competition. There’s going to be a lot expected from us, and I’m ready to take that on.”
Patberg, Marina Mabrey and Ogunbowale know they have a strong tradition to uphold when they arrive in South Bend this fall.
“Hopefully, we get a national championship,” Ogunbowale said. “I’m hoping they get it this year. If they don’t, hopefully, we’ll get it next year.
“But all these other 2015 players, they’re all going to UConn, Louisville, Maryland, Texas, a lot of great schools,” she said. “Girls basketball is going to be great next year.”