Columbus North was in the process of stretching out its lead in the second quarter of Saturday’s girls basketball game when Perry Meridian’s D’Anjrea Allen went up for a shot from the left baseline.
The shot didn’t make it far. Emily Kim — all 5-foot-6 of her — sent it right back at the 5-9 Allen.
The play was a small one in the course of the Bull Dogs’ 72-45 victory, but it was exemplary of the kind of plays Kim has made all season to help North to a 14-0 start and a No. 2 ranking in Class 4A.
“I like to bring a lot of energy,” Kim said. “I like to bring something off the bench every game. Championship teams, you have players that play their roles, and to be successful, players have to do what they can do. I do what the coaches ask and not too much and not too little.”
For the senior co-captain, that has meant coming off the bench when it looked like she may have been the heir apparent to Ali Patberg, last year’s Indiana Miss Basketball, at point guard. But when junior Ashlyn Huffman moved with her family from Franklin Central this summer, the Bull Dogs replaced the state’s top player with another All-State-caliber point guard.
“To be successful, I knew Ashlyn had to be a point guard,” Kim said. “I knew she was a better player for the spot, so I was open arms when she got here. I hope she succeeds in everything.”
While Kim often spells Huffman at the point, Kim also sees several minutes a game at shooting guard.
“I actually prefer to play shooting guard,” Kim said. “I haven’t played a lot of it. But I have been able to since Ashlyn’s been here, and I like it a lot.”
North coach Pat McKee knew she would.
“She’s naturally a giving person, very unselfish,” McKee said. “When it comes to roles on the team, if she had not understood, it could have been a more challenging deal. But because she is a big picture person, she understands. She’s all for the team first. She’s first class in every way.”
Although her averages of 1.9 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists a game don’t seem like a lot, Kim’s contributions go beyond her stat lines.
“She brings high energy,” McKee said. “We don’t ever have to ask her to play hard. She always plays hard. She’s fun to coach; she’s fun to be around.
“There’s never a bad word you could say about her because she’s always so upbeat and positive about everything.”
And as McKee puts it, Kim’s leadership carries over off the court.
“She’s a captain because she is such a good leader, and the kids respect her and respond to her,” McKee said. “She’s smart, she can keep things organized and she keeps kids focused in the right direction. Some kids are OK with details, but they get so focused on them, they gloss over the big picture. She’s really good at the details and how they fit in the big picture, which is why she’s so good at being a leader.”
Barring an unforeseen circumstance, this will be Kim’s last year of competitive basketball.
She plans to attend Xavier University and study communications.
“She’s the kind of person who could be president someday,” McKee said. “She is just a natural-born leader. She communicates with people, she is always upbeat and positive with people, and that translates to our team and it translates to the floor.”
Last year, Kim saw some varsity action as the eighth girl for a North team that went 28-1 and won the Class 4A state championship. The Bull Dogs have picked up where they left off, winning their first 14 games by an average of 20 points a contest.
“A lot of people said we weren’t going to have success this season because Ali is not there, but that just shows you last year wasn’t just Ali,” Kim said. “It was Sheyanne (Street), it was Debie (Gedeon), it was all of them out there.
“I think everyone is really learning their roles for the team, what they need to do, what they shouldn’t do,” she said. “Of course I’d like to win another state championship, but we’ll take it game by game.”
And maybe Kim, whose block on Saturday was the first of her varsity career, will pick up a few more of those along the way.
“Hey, I’m 5-6; I take them whenever I can get them,” Kim said. “It’s pretty exciting. Everyone gets hyped because, when does the smallest girl on the floor get a block?”
Name: Emily Kim
School: Columbus North
College choice: Xavier