Its five starters came from four different middle schools.
Still, the Columbus North freshman basketball team was able to blend that talent together into a cohesive unit and put together an undefeated season. They went 17-0, with most of their wins coming in blowout fashion.
“We all got to know each other better in the classroom, during practice,” point guard Darius Bennett said. “On away games, being around each other just made us all come together and create a bond.”
Bennett played his middle school basketball at Northside. Jackson Payne and Adam Chapman came from Central. Nicholas Schiavello played at St. Bartholmew, and Casper Clark moved in from Jennings County.
“We learned each other’s strong suits,” Payne said. “Casper is great inside. Nicholas can rain jump shots. Darius is a great point guard. We all just combined our efforts and skills.”
Scott Wilson, who was in his second year as North’s freshman coach and varsity assistant, said the group was a team-first unit. He said he never ran into academic issues or with kids getting in trouble in school and had great support from the parents.
Because the varsity and JV boys and girls practice after school in North’s two gyms, the freshmen practiced from 5:45 to 7:15 a.m. They arrived at 5:35 a.m. to warm up.
“We were just looking forward to having a good season, and the turnout was phenomenal,” Bennett said. “We worked hard during the season, practiced super hard and had fun, but when it came game time, we knew what we were there for.”
Only two of the Bull Dogs’ wins came by less than 10 points. Their closest game was a 41-35 decision at Terre Haute North on Jan. 6.
That was the ninth game for Columbus North, which was 8-0 before Christmas Break.
“We started out 8-0, and coach said this could be an undefeated team,” Payne said. “So we started working harder and harder each practice. Every win, we kept getting motivated.”
The 6-foot-4 Clark was the team’s leading scorer. He had 27 points in first half of the season finale, a 60-35 win at Franklin, and averaged about 15 a game. Schiavello moved up to JV midway through the season, and Clark moved up after the freshman season was over.
All 12 kids on the team were able to play since most Conference Indiana games lasted five quarters.
“We just wanted to play together and have fun,” Schiavello said. “We looked to get everyone involved and kind of molded together as a team.”
The freshman boys aren’t the only sub-varsity squad to have success at North this winter. The JV boys are 14-4 with two games remaining.
The Bull Dogs’ freshman girls went 17-1, and the JV girls went 17-2.
“It was a fun season,” Wilson said. “To go undefeated in any sport is rare, and the kids probably don’t realize how rare that is. You have to get up for every game. They were really a fun group to coach.”
The Columbus North freshman boys basketball roster:
Coach: Scott Wilson