When Imani Guy arrived at Columbus North as a 6-foot-4 freshman two years ago, she was a raw talent in need of major development.
That development came along slowly the first two years, but as a junior Guy has made a huge leap. After coming off the bench for last year’s Class 4A state championship squad, she has stepped into a starting role and has been a big player for a team that is 22-1 and ranked No. 1 in 4A heading into the postseason.
“My freshman and sophomore years, I was more scared, so I just kind of steered the ball up there,” Guy said. “Now, I’m taking my time and not rushing it and actually making a post move.”
That’s paid off for Guy. She’s raised her field-goal percentage from 43 percent as a freshman and 50 percent last year to 55 percent this season.
“There’s no question that she’s worked on her skills and post moves,” North coach Pat McKee said. “She’s made improvement with her ball handling, although she’s always been able in an open-court setting to handle the ball OK. Now, she’s handling the ball a little bit better in traffic.”
Guy ranks second on the team with 9.0 points and 5.6 rebounds a game and leads the squad with 3.1 blocks. She played probably the best game of her career when she scored 16 points and held Purdue-bound Ae’Rianna Harris in check in an early-season win against Lawrence North, which was the top-ranked team in Class 4A at the time.
McKee said he thinks Guy may have topped that performance with her effort at both ends of the floor in last week’s win at Whiteland.
“She really defended and impacted the game the way we want her to because she did it with limited fouls for most of the game,” McKee said. “We don’t expect her to get zero fouls, but she has to be smart about them. We don’t need every block. A simple tip is good enough.”
Sophomore Kat Norman, who goes up against Guy in practice most days, has noticed a big improvement in the junior’s game.
“She’s gotten a lot stronger and has more moves,” Norman said of Guy. “She’s been a lot tougher to guard, and she’s more of a threat this year.”
Although Guy has scholarship offers from Evansville and East Carolina and is being recruited by several other schools for basketball, she hasn’t decided if she will play basketball or volleyball in college. A middle hitter in volleyball, Guy is being recruited by Youngstown State to play both sports.
She isn’t sure which sport she likes best.
“It’s really equal,” Guy said. “That’s what makes the decision even harder. I think that in volleyball, there’s moments where I do better than basketball, but then there’s also moments in basketball where I think I’m a better player.”
Guy endured a minor setback last week when she rolled an ankle during weight training class. But the injury didn’t seem to affect her in the win at Whiteland or in Thursday’s victory against Class 4A No. 5 Roncalli in the regular-season finale.
The Bull Dogs received a first-round bye in the Bloomington North Sectional and will open Friday against Columbus East or Shelbyville. Guy hopes it’s the first step toward a second consecutive state title.
“We obviously want to get back to state and bring a ring home for everyone,” Guy said. “Now that we’re in postseason, when you lose, you go home, and we all just want to all be together as long as we can.”
Class 4A Bloomington North Sectional
Game 1: East Central vs. Bloomington North, 6 p.m.
Game 2: Columbus East vs. Shelbyville, 7:30 p.m.
Game 3: Bloomington South vs. Game 1 winner, 6 p.m.
Game 4: Columbus North vs. Game 2 winner, 7:30 p.m.
Game 5: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 7 p.m.
Favorite: Columbus North
Dark horse: Columbus East
Players to watch: Columbus North — Imani Guy, Maliah Howard-Bass, Ashlyn Huffman, Paige Littrell, Elle Williams; Columbus East — Britney Ballard, Addy Galarno, Audrey Wetzel; Bloomington South — Cherise Otter; East Central — Allie McCool; Shelbyville — Cassady Skipton.