PROVING HER POINT

Maliah Howard-Bass loves your hate.

Try telling the Columbus North junior that something’s out of her reach, and she’ll go to the ends of the earth to prove you wrong.

The Bull Dogs can’t make it back to the girls basketball state final without Ali Patberg on the team? Ha.

Howard-Bass doesn’t have enough height (5 feet, 9 inches) or athleticism to become a dominant high school player and earn Division I scholarship offers? You’re hilarious.

Feeding off of the naysayers, Howard-Bass was the driving force for a North team that finished 27-2 and returned to the Class 4A state final. Her efforts earned her several postseason accolades, including a spot on the core group of Indiana Junior All-Stars, and now she’s earned another — The Republic’s Player of the Year.

“After last season, we’ve always had those doubters that were like, ‘Oh, you guys aren’t going back. You lost Ali,’” Howard-Bass said. “And that kind of put a mindset in you.”

That mindset helped Howard-Bass become one of the state’s elite players this season.

She emerged as the Bull Dogs’ go-to scorer, particularly in clutch moments — Howard-Bass had 13 games with 20 or more points, and she beat the buzzer with game-winning buckets against both Lawrence North and Seymour.

When it was all over, Howard-Bass had racked up the second best single-season point total in North history, trailing only Patberg’s otherworldly senior campaign. She’s on track to finish her career at or near the top of several of the school’s all-time lists.

Numerous individual honors have already come, and there will undoubtedly be more — but for Howard-Bass, who has experienced defeat just six times in 84 varsity games at North thus far, all of those things are secondary.

She wants another trip to Bankers Life Fieldhouse on her way out of Columbus. And she can’t wait for you to tell her that she and the Bull Dogs can’t go.

So go ahead and hate away.

“We’re probably going to have the same thing we had last year — ‘You guys aren’t going to go back,’” Howard-Bass said. “But I’m going to prove them wrong, and hopefully we come out with a win.”

All-Area Team

Britney Ballard, 5-11 sophomore guard, Columbus East

An HHC honorable mention selection, Ballard averaged 10.0 points, dished out a team-high 57 assists and shot 37 percent from 3-point range.

Addy Galarno, 5-9 sophomore guard, Columbus East

Galarno averaged 10.2 points and had 47 steals for the Olympians, earning honorable mention All-HHC recognition.

Sidney Gerkin, 5-4 junior guard, Jennings County

Gerkin was an All-Hoosier Hills Conference selection and an IBCA All-State underclass honorable mention pick for the Panthers.

Imani Guy, 6-4 junior center, Columbus North

An Indiana Junior All-Star, Guy blocked 92 shots this season, an average of 5.5 per 32 minutes. She was also North’s No. 2 scorer and rebounder.

Maliah Howard-Bass, 5-9 junior guard, Columbus North

Howard-Bass, an IBCA Supreme 15 pick and an Indiana Junior All-Star, hit game-winning buzzer-beaters against Lawrence North and Seymour.

Ashlyn Huffman, 5-5 junior guard, Columbus North

Huffman, an Indiana Junior All-Star, dished out 125 assists in her first season at North and scored a late game-winning bucket at East Central.

Paige Littrell, 5-10 senior guard, Columbus North

This year’s Class 4A Mental Attitude Award winner hit 47 3-pointers this season and finished her career with 156, the most in school history.

Leslie Sims, 5-5 senior guard, Hauser

An honorable mention All-State selection, Sims averaged 12.7 points, 4.3 assists and 3.4 steals for a solid 14-9 Jets squad.

Audrey Wetzel, 5-11 senior guard, Columbus East

An All-HHC pick, Wetzel finishes her career third on the Olympians’ career scoring list (1,239 points) and fifth all-time in rebounds (574) and steals (174).

Elle Williams, 6-0 senior forward, Columbus North

A defensive stopper for North, Williams grabbed 245 rebounds this season, a figure topped by only five players in the Bull Dogs’ history.

Honorable mention

Brown County: Jalynn Stanford; Columbus East: Kristen Lyons, Riley Meade; Columbus North: Emily Kim; Edinburgh: Bri Howard, Allie Schooler, Mariah Weddle; Hauser: Abbey Ashbrook, Paige Miller, Tessa Sims, Sarah Tedder; Jennings County: Brooklyn Gaines, Shelbi Wright.

Chasing history

Maliah Howard-Bass in the Columbus North record book:

Career scoring

1. Ali Patberg (2015);2,026

2. Tina Bolte (2003);1,292

3. Tayler Goodall (2014);1,291

4. Brittany Bowen (2007);1,277

5. Kara Kleinhenz (1998); 1,276

6. Missy Wade (1992);1,231

7. Karen McCaa (1989);1,064

8. Sarah Kerkhof (2000);1,043

9. Courtney Larson (2011);1,018

10. Melissa Huffman (1986);925

11. Maliah Howard-Bass (2017);918

Points in a season

1. Patberg (2015);751

2. Howard-Bass (2016);540

3. Teri Staker (1984);479

4. Missy Wade (1992);471

5. Patberg (2013);469

Career 3-pointers

1. Paige Littrell (2016);156

2. Tayler Goodall (2014);144

3. Tina Bolte (2003);105

4. Maliah Howard-Bass (2017);88

3-pointers in a season

1. Tayler Goodall (2014);73

2. Paige Littrell (2015);54

3. Howard-Bass (2016);53

3-pointers in a game

Howard-Bass matched a school record with six against Jennings County on Jan. 5.

By the numbers

Maliah Howard-Bass in 2015-16:

Scoring: 540 points (18.6 per game)

Rebounds: 145 (5.0 per game)

Assists: 43 (1.8 per game)

Steals: 81 (2.8 per game)

Field goal percentage: .431 (188 for 436)

3-point FG percentage: .402 (53 for 132)

Free throw percentage: .799 (111 for 139)

Author photo
Ryan O'Leary is sports editor for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at roleary@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2715.