FOR Columbus North on Tuesday night, it was push-button Ali Patberg.
While the Bull Dogs ran their record to 21-0 with a 59-44 victory against visiting Whiteland, they didn’t consider it one of their best
efforts of the season.
Patberg, who finished with 24 points, was the difference as she took matters into her own hands at times when North got into an offensive funk.
In the second quarter, with North leading 16-13, Patberg stepped forward, scoring six points during a 9-0 run that left the Bull Dogs with a 25-16 lead at halftime.
She held North together in a sluggish third quarter with eight points and she also scored North’s first six points of the fourth quarter.
“That’s what great players do,” Whiteland coach Kyle Shipp said of Patberg lifting her team. “We tried different defenders on her, and we switched up defenses. But she is a very good player. We tried to keep her out of the paint, but she got in the middle on us. She was too much for us tonight.”
Patberg said it’s just her responsibility at times to lift the team.
“When the team is down, and we’re not playing our best, I have to pick it up,” she said. “We struggled today.”
The Bull Dogs struggled against a team that fell to 9-10.
Although Whiteland never seemed to be a huge threat, it did make North uncomfortable. Whiteland’s Chelsea Perry hit three 3-pointers which kept the Warriors in the game.
Whiteland guard Kaitlyn Phillips scored 10 of her 13 points in the second half, mostly on drives down the lane, but North simply had too much talent.
“They can beat you multiple ways,” Shipp said.
Patberg said North can’t afford “to wait until they make it a game.”
However, the Bull Dogs utilized most of their bench throughout the game as players were given minutes to prepare for the rough post-season tournament schedule that lies ahead.
“We had a rough start,” said North’s Hanna Ballard, who had six points. “We were talking about energy and focus.”
North started out well on Tuesday night and had a 16-7 lead in the final minute of the first quarter when Whiteland’s Chelsea Perry hit one of her three 3-points on the night to cut the lead to 16-10.
Both teams were sluggish offensively in the second quarter. The Lady Warriors made only two baskets the entire quarter, but both were 3-points by Perry and Monica Wagner.
The third quarter was a much quicker pace as both squads battled turnovers. Whiteland’s turnovers seem to feed North’s transition game, though, as Patberg kept driving the lane.
With a 39-29 lead going into the fourth quarter, the Bull Dogs relied on some long distance shooting to clinch it. The team’s trade baskets until North’s Paige Littrell and Tayler Goodall dropped 3-balls on consecutive possessions. That made it 55-38 and it was over.
After Patberg’s 24, North had balanced scoring from Hannah Poindexter and Kelsey Cunningham with eight points each, Goodall with seven and Ballard with six.
Columbus North plays its final home game of the season on Saturday against Bloomington North.