Columbus North knew exactly where it needed to go after falling behind Bedford North Lawrence by seven points in Saturday night’s regional final.
The Bull Dogs had to get the basketball inside to Imani Guy.
The 6-foot-4 senior post player delivered. She scored eight consecutive points for her team and six in a row overall to bring the North girls within one point at halftime.
The Bull Dogs, thanks in part to 14 points from Guy, went on to beat the Class 4A No. 9 Stars to win their third consecutive regional title.
“She had some really important baskets, especially late second quarter when we were behind,” North coach Pat McKee said. “She helped get us back in the game and then forced them to go inside with their defense, which opened some things for other players.”
That’s been the case more often than not for Guy and the Bull Dogs this season. But it hasn’t always been that way.
Guy’s freshman and sophomore years, she came off the bench for a team led by do-everything point guard Ali Patberg. Maliah Howard-Bass took over as the offensive leader last year and still is this year, but Guy has been a solid complement with 9.6 points a game.
“This year especially, I’ve tried to go after the ball more on the offensive side, trying to get more shots up and be more of a threat on offense,” Guy said. “I try to post up whenever I can. I think my teammates do a good job of looking in. We have a lot of plays for that, trying to get me the ball, so I can go up against the other bigs.”
Often times, that leads to Guy drawing a foul, and free-throw shooting has been a big reason for her increased offensive productivity this season. After shooting 46 percent, 52 percent and 51 percent from the line the past three years, the University of Southern Indiana recruit ranks second on the team at 72 percent this season.
Guy, who also leads North with 6.9 rebounds and 3.3 blocked shots a game, attributes her improvement in the paint to battling in practice with the Bull Dogs’ other post players, Tessa Lomax, Jahna Smiley and Kat Norman. She also credits her offseason work with Indianapolis-based trainer Shon Bolden, who trained Patberg when she was in high school.
“Her offensive skills have developed a lot, and that’s a credit to her because she’s really worked hard both within our structure and then out-of-season with Shon Bolden,” McKee said. “Her ability with footwork and keeping the ball high and finishing shots has improved immensely.”
McKee and North will look for another big game from Guy on Saturday, when it faces 4A No. 4 Pike in the Richmond Semistate. The Red Devils feature three starters at either 5-11 or 6-0, but nobody as tall as Guy.
If she and her teammates can play like they did at Bedford, they likely will have a chance at making their third consecutive trip to the state finals. That would be a big accomplishment for a team that has taken its lumps at times this season.
“I’m really proud of what we’ve been able to do during tournament time,” Guy said. “I know that a lot of people may have doubted us, but we kept pushing and stayed confident with each other.”
Name: Imani Guy
School: Columbus North
Key stats: 9.6 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 3.3 bpg, 50 percent field-goal shooting, 72 percent free-throw shooting
College choice: Southern Indiana
What: Richmond Semistate
When: 3 p.m. Saturday
Where: Richmond High School
Who: Columbus North (21-7) vs. Pike (23-3)
Advancement: Winner moves on to the Class 4A state finals at around 8:15 p.m. Feb. 25 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse