It was senior night at Columbus North’s Memorial Gym, where the group of five Bull Dog seniors, affectionately known as the “Fab Five,” played the last regular-season home game of their careers.
Jenna Borger, Kat Norman, Kenzie Patberg, Kelsey Patberg, and Liz Tynan went out with bang, with the Bull Dogs defeating Roncalli 47-37. The final score, however, did not indicate how close the game was from the opening tip.
It was only fitting that on this night, two seniors would be the players to step up for North and hit big shots to help close out the victory.
In the fourth quarter, as Roncalli was making a run at the Bull Dogs and closed a somewhat comfortable North lead to just two points, Borger nailed a triple from the corner to regain the momentum. After a pair of free throws by Roncalli’s Alana Vinson cut the lead back to three, it was Kelsey Patberg who nailed a 3 with 3:23 left in the game to put North back up by six.
The Bull Dogs’ defense took over from there and held the Rebels scoreless for the remainder of the game.
Borger and Kelsey Patberg know it was their job to step up and make plays.
“I was in a bit of a slump shooting the ball tonight,” Borger said. “Luckily, I was able to shoot the ball with confidence in that situation, and it went in.”
Patberg had similar thoughts.
“I was a little nervous going into the game because I normally don’t start,” she said. “But in that situation, I was able to catch the ball ready to shoot. I was confident because that shot came within the flow of the offense.”
To begin, North coach Pat McKee started the five seniors, a switch from his normal starting lineup. Although Kelsey Patberg may have been nervous to start the game, she didn’t show it, opening the scoring with a 3-point shot to give the Bull Dogs (17-6) a quick three-point lead.
Roncalli’s Ellie Bischoff quickly answered Patberg’s three with one of her own to tie the game. After another 3 from Bischoff and a pair of free throws from Lauren Fey, the Rebels (12-11) found themselves with an 8-3 lead.
That, however, would be their largest lead of the night. North answered with a 12-2 run to end the quarter and lead 15-10.
The teams battled back and forth in the second quarter, with neither able to extend a lead past three points until the Bull Dogs were able to put together a quick six-point spurt and gain a 24-17 lead with 2:13 remaining in the half. Each team traded free throws to end the first half, and North headed to the locker room holding a 28-21 lead.
Coming out for the third quarter, a Borger 3-pointer gave the Bull Dogs a 31-21 lead, their largest of the night. Roncalli came back with three straight baskets by Vinson to cut it it four, but a Borger floater in the lane extended North’s lead back up to six entering the fourth.
Roncalli made one final run in the final period. Back-to-back layins by the Fey cut the lead to just two points with 5 minutes left in the game. That is when the Bull Dog seniors stepped up from long range and put the game away.
North was able to ice the game at the free-throw line to give the seniors a victory in their final home game.
Borger led the Bull Dogs, scoring 17 points and making four 3s. She was helped by Kenzie Patberg and Tessa Lomax, who each had seven points.
“I think we played good tonight. We weren’t perfect. We made a few mistakes, but we had good energy. We came out with great energy in our game Tuesday night against a really good team (in a loss at Whiteland). So to come out with good energy tonight considering, that was OK,” McKee said. “It’s probably good we have a bye going into sectional so we can get a little rest.”