North senior battles back from ACL surgery

Zach Green had high hopes for his junior basketball season.

Those plans were derailed, however, when he tore an ACL in Columbus North’s scrimmage. That caused him to miss the entire season.

After sitting out almost a full year, Green has returned to have a big senior season. He is the second-leading scorer for the Bull Dogs, who open sectional play tonight against Bloomington South at Bloomington North.

“It was hard not being able to be out on the court with my team, but I tried to help them the most I could off the court and learn as much as I could from my coaches,” Green said. “I tried to get a lot of mental reps so I’d be ready for (this) year.”

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Green certainly has been. He has started most of North’s games and is averaging 8.7 points, second on the team behind Alex King’s 18.5.

On Thursday, Green led the Bull Dogs with 12 points in a 54-42 loss at Center Grove in the regular-season finale.

“He’s had an outstanding senior year, and it’s hard to come back off a serious knee injury like that,” North coach Paul Ferguson said. “You just never know how it’s going to respond. Fortunately, Zach’s knee has responded well, and he may even be a little bouncier than he was last year. He has not lost any athleticism, and his basketball skills have improved.”

Green averages 3.2 points and 1.5 assists. His 0.9 steals ranks third on the team.

But it’s his intangibles that drew the most praise from Ferguson.

“We always talk about, ‘Who’s going to be the junkyard dog for our team? Who’s going to win those 50-50 balls? Who’s going to dive on the floor and get that loose ball?’” Ferguson said. “Zach’s the type of guy for us who makes a lot of those plays.”

Green was a starter in that scrimmage last year when he injured his knee, and Ferguson was counting on him playing a big role. With him out of action, the Bull Dogs struggled to a 1-7 start and finished 10-14.

This year, with Green back on the floor, North is 15-8.

“We were disappointed when we lost him last year,” Ferguson said. “I don’t think a lot of people understood how big a loss it actually was. Zach is a coach’s dream. He comes in every day and works hard, he’s very unselfish, he’ll play any role that we ask him to play, he’s all about the team and he loves to win. Guys like that are fun to coach.”

Green’s basketball career may be winding down. He is planning to attend Indiana University and go into a science-based major with the goal of becoming a physical therapist. He may play intramural basketball.

While Green didn’t play basketball from the time of last year’s injury until late summer, he did play soccer for the first time in his high school career. He was one of the goalkeepers for a Bull Dogs team that won a regional title.

“I had a good time with soccer and made a lot of great friends, but I was really looking forward to playing my senior year (of basketball),” Green said. “I knew I needed to work hard in the offseason recovering and getting stronger and getting my quickness back. I knew I could get back to where I was, and I really worked and that helped me catch up to the other guys. I wanted to have a successful senior season and make a run in the tournament.”

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.