The way the Columbus North girls basketball team played in June was cause for optimism for the upcoming high school season.
But what happened in July could dampen those expectations a little.
The Bull Dogs endured ACL injuries to two key players. Senior point guard Ashlyn Huffman and junior post player Kat Norman will miss at least part of the season.
Huffman’s injury is her third major knee injury, and her second in the past six months. She tore the meniscus in her right knee in the regional final Feb. 13 and missed North’s semistate and state final games.
Huffman returned to her travel team in May, played in the Indiana Junior-Senior All-Star exhibition in June and was with the Bull Dogs throughout their June schedule. But then she tore the ACL in her left knee on July 7 and had surgery on July 28.
“Obviously, it’s very tough,” Huffman said. “When I first did it, we didn’t think I did it, but we thought we ought to get it checked out. When I first heard (the results), I was pretty torn up and upset. But God has a plan, and if I can use my strength to encourage other people, that’s what I’m going to do with it.”
Between her freshman and sophomore years at Franklin Central, Huffman tore the ACL in her right knee. She came back in about 18 weeks to play for the Flashes at the beginning of the season.
“I’m hoping if I can do that again, I will be able to play some this season, which would be awesome,” said Huffman, who transferred to North following her sophomore year.
Norman, meanwhile, tore an ACL on July 23. She played in 28 of the Bull Dogs’ 29 games, averaging 2.8 points and 2.3 rebounds in a reserve role.
Huffman averaged 9.3 points, 29. rebounds, 2.3 steals and led North with 4.6 assists a game in earning Indiana Coaches of Girls Sports Association second-team All-State and Indiana Basketball Coaches Association Underclass All-State honors. Her 125 assists last season rank fourth on the Bull Dogs’ single-season list.
Before her latest injury, Huffman picked up an offer from Bellarmine. She also has been in contact with some Ivy League schools, including Yale.
“They have to take that risk of, ‘Is she going to be back, or when is she going to be back?'” Huffman said. I’m still in contact with them, but we’ll see how it goes.”
North, which has been ranked as the preseason No. 1 in the country by one publication, begins its season Nov. 8 against New Albany.