The Columbus North girls basketball team won the state championship last year, and they’re back this year to try it again.
Parents of players on the 27-1 Bull Dog team are planning an enthusiastic send-off at 4:45 p.m. Saturday, when the team bus leaves from the high school on its way to Bankers Life Fieldhouse for the Class 4A championship game against the 27-2 Penn High School Kingsman from Mishawaka.
When the team bus leaves, families of the players will continue their tradition of cheering on the players from the roadside as the bus heads north on U.S. 31, Columbus North athletics secretary Cindy McCoy said.
Tickets to the game can be purchased for $15 at the athletics office of Columbus North, 1400 25th St., Door 30 near the gymnasium entrance from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and again Thursday starting at 9 a.m.
The Columbus North game is scheduled for 8:15 p.m., but school officials and parents who attended last year strongly encourage fans to arrive by at least 7:30 p.m to avoid traffic.
The $15 price is the same if you buy your ticket at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Saturday — but $1 per ticket goes to Columbus North if you buy the ticket at the high school.
Public pep rally
The game is Saturday night, but cheering starts earlier.
A short pep rally is planned during halftime at Thursday night’s boy’s basketball game at home against Heritage Christian, North coach Pat McKee said.
This isn’t the first time the boys have shown their support, McKee said. During the Bull Dogs’ semistate game Saturday against Roncalli in Richmond, the boys were excused from practice so they could cheer for the girls team as fans.
The pep rally will be the final time tickets can be pre-ordered through the school, Hester said. Those who wait until Friday or Saturday will have to buy tickets at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
A police escort
Columbus Police Department will escort the team bus from the high school to Interstate 65, said Lt. Matt Harris, Columbus police spokesman.
Squad cars from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department will escort the bus with full lights and sirens from the Marion County line to Bankers Life Fieldhouse, said Jeff Hester, Columbus North athletics director.
Columbus police then will meet the girls team bus later Saturday night as it returns from the game, regardless of the outcome, Harris said.
Following the rules
McKee said he hopes fans will be supportive, not disruptive during the game.
To that end, there are some rules from the IHSAA, Hester said.
No megaphones, cowbells, balloons, noise makers or banners are permitted in the stands, Hester said. Anyone found with these items will be removed from the game.
Anyone thinking their real, living bulldog might make a good mascot should think again, he said. No live animals or pets are allowed in the stadium.
Most importantly, all spectators must be fully clothed during the event — and body paint doesn’t count, he said. All those in attendance must wear an actual shirt.
Fortunately, Columbus North girls basketball T-shirts will be on sale at the athletics office and during the pep rally for $15 a piece, Hester said.
The championship game will air live on Fox Sports Indiana, according to the IHSAA. Channels vary by service provider.
Viewers outside of the Fox Sports Indiana coverage area can watch a live stream at IHSAAtv.org. For those within the FS1 coverage area, the stream will be available only on a delayed basis following the conclusion of the telecast.
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