Going into her freshman girls basketball season, Nadia Lomax didn’t expect to be a big contributor for defending Class 4A state champion Columbus North.
But Lomax and sophomore Kat Norman have both played key roles off the bench for the Bull Dogs, who finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in the state and are 26-1 going into Saturday’s semistate game against Roncalli at Richmond.
“It’s not at all what I expected,” Lomax said. “I kind of expected to kind of sit back and do stuff sometimes. I’ve had to do a lot more than what I thought I needed to.”
Lomax and Norman have both played in all 27 of North’s games, each averaging about nine minutes per contest. Norman averages 2.9 points and 2.3 rebounds, while Lomax adds 2.6 points and 1.9 rebounds.
But their contributions go beyond their stat lines.
“I think we’ve gotten a lot better throughout the season,” Norman said. “Each one of us has learned our roles, and we’ve gotten better individually and as a team.”
Both players have had their moments. Norman scored eight points against Terre Haute South and nine against Jennings County.
Lomax had nine points and three steals in a season-high 16 minutes in a 46-44 win at East Central. In that game, she made the game-tying basket with 12 seconds remaining, and the Bull Dogs came up with a steal and layup in the closing seconds to pull out the victory.
“Depending on matchups, there are games where Kat has stepped up and played really well, and then there’s other games where Nadia has stepped up and played really well,” North coach Pat McKee said. “It’s usually a matter of, ‘What does the other team present, what are their strengths, how do we match up better to either take advantage and score and attack them or defend and match in a way we can make it harder for them?'”
Norman, a 6-foot forward, backs up junior Imani Guy and senior Elle Williams in the post. Lomax, a 5-10 wing, typically spells junior Maliah Howard-Bass or senior Paige Littrell on the wing.
McKee calls Norman and Lomax his “7A and 7B” players. With junior point guard Ashlyn Huffman out for the rest of the season with a torn meniscus, senior Emily Kim moves into the starting lineup, and Norman and Lomax become 6A and 6B.
“They’re two valuable players to our team,” McKee said. “They’ve been important all year long, and they could be even more important this game, but it’s not all on them.”
If Huffman’s absence, the rest of the Bull Dogs’ bench — senior Amy Weisner and sophomores Jenna Borger, Liz Tynan, Kenzie Patberg and Kelsey Patberg — might see increased roles.
Either way, Norman and Lomax will likely be called upon to provide a lift.
“I’m just grateful that I’ve been able to be a part of this team and be more of an asset to the varsity team this year,” Norman said.
Both Norman and Lomax say the camaraderie and friendships they’ve developed with their teammates have been their favorite parts of this season.
Lomax also likes the pregame jam sessions.
“We have a Beats Pill (speaker) that we use all the time, and we basically just blast in the locker room and dance and everything,” Lomax said. “I think chemically, we have bonded more together, and I think it’s like we’re playing as one instead of five individuals.”
Class 4A girls basketball
Roncalli (24-4) vs. Columbus North (26-1) at Richmond, 3 p.m.
Penn (26-2) vs. Homestead (26-2) at Fort Wayne Carroll, 7 p.m.
Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis
Semistate winners, 8:15 p.m.
Follow The Republic on Twitter (@therepublicnews) and on Facebook for score updates, photos and more during Saturday’s semistate game.
Roncalli senior forward Daesjah Ely, the Rebels’ second-leading scorer and rebounder, is now expected to play in Saturday afternoon’s Richmond Semistate game against Columbus North.
Ely left last Saturday’s regional final game against Greenfield with what was reported as an apparent knee injury at the time, but Roncalli sports information director Rob Brown said that the issue was severe cramps and dehydration. She walked through practice Tuesday and is expected to be back at full speed by the weekend.
In Roncalli’s 66-62 loss at Columbus North on Jan. 28, Ely led the Rebels with 19 points and nine rebounds.