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Columbus North junior earns recognition for efforts on court

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Columbus North coach Pat McKee has a theory as to why Ali Patberg broke all of the school’s assist records this year.

The junior guard was the beneficiary of some sizzling shooting by the Bull Dogs this season. North shot 42 percent from 3-point range and 52 percent overall from the field.

As a result, Patberg set the single-game, single-season and career assist marks in leading the Bull Dogs to a 23-3 record and Conference Indiana and sectional championships and is The Republic Athlete of the Year for Girls Basketball for the second straight year.

“Part of the reason her assists are so good is our team shot the ball better this year,” McKee said.

“Her teammates stepped up and made shots. It’s a team thing, but at the same time, Ali got the ball to other people.”

Patberg did her share of scoring and rebounding as well, leading North with 18.3 points and 7.1 rebounds a game. The Notre Dame recruit averaged 5.9 assists and finished second on the team with 2.8 steals and 0.7 blocks and has been named a Core Six member of the Indiana Junior All-Stars.

“I think I rebounded better this year and passed well, too,” Patberg said. “I wouldn’t say I’m disappointed with my season, but looking back, there’s a lot I need to work on. I need to look at film and study the game more. I watch the game of basketball on TV, but just watching myself and my teammates so I can take advantage of their strengths and knowing concepts.

“I think I can get better on defense, too, being more aware of what’s around me and knowing what the other team is going to do ahead of time,” she said.

This season, Patberg dished out a record 12 assists in a win at Southport and 148 assists for the season. She already has the career record with 358 assists with still another year to play.

“She’s a complete player,” McKee said. “She passes, she defends and she scores when the opportunities are there.”

“The team being successful has helped me a lot,” Patberg said. “You can’t do it without the team.”

After playing almost exclusively point guard as a freshman, Patberg shared ball-handling duties with senior Kelsey Cunningham the past two years. With Cunningham graduating, the 5-foot-10 Patberg will likely do most of the ball-handling as a senior.

“I want to be a better leader and a better teammate and just work on things I need to work on and help my teammates in the offseason work on the things they need to work on,” Patberg said.

The Bull Dogs’ season ended with a regional loss to eventual state champion Bedford North Lawrence for the second straight year.

“I think I could have individually done some things better,” Patberg said. “As a team, it didn’t end how we wanted it to end. We have to get back to work and figure out how we can do better next year.”

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