INDIANAPOLIS — If last season’s girls basketball games between Columbus North and Greenwood were any indication, their matchup in Saturday night’s Hoosier Invitational at Bankers Life Fieldhouse was sure to live up to the billing.
The Woodmen won last year’s regular-season contest 41-38, and the Bull Dogs exacted revenge with a 49-42 Class 4A regional semifinal victory.
This one didn’t disappoint, either.
Class 4A No. 2 Columbus North led most of the way and staved off several Greenwood comeback attempts to beat the fifth-ranked Woodmen 54-48.
Sophomore guard Ali Patberg scored a game-high 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting, including eight straight points during the last 5:31 to help the Bull Dogs (6-0) pull away. She also led North with five rebounds.
Freshman guard Paige Littrell scored 11 points off the bench, and junior guard Taylor Goodall added nine points.
Junior guard Kelsey Cunningham, who went 6 of 6 from the free-throw line and scored eight points, said it felt good for the Bull Dogs to be able to persevere against such a strong opponent as Greenwood (8-1).
“I think we did well making our shots, and we are in good condition,” she said. “So we used that against them to force the ball down the court.”
Cunningham applauded Patberg’s performance in the final quarter, which helped North seal the win.
“She’s a leader that keeps us in line, and she has us all under control,” Cunningham said. “She helps us a lot.”
The Bull Dogs won the tip and Goodall took the ball right down for an immediate layup. But Greenwood answered with a jumper by senior forward Deauna Evans.
Goodall and Evans traded buckets again, and the score was tied at 4-4 after the first minute.
Both teams attacked the basket throughout the middle of the first quarter and combined for five straight trips to the line. Greenwood captured its first lead at 9-8 on a 3-point play by Evans at the 3:27 mark.
North countered with a 5-1 run, capped off with a 3-pointer by Littrell to take a 13-10 lead with 1:07 remaining in the quarter.
Littrell stayed hot in the second quarter and drained two more buckets from beyond the arc to help the Bull Dogs carry a 34-26 lead into the break.
Littrell said she was glad to be able to contribute in a big game.
“I was nervous, but I felt it through and felt good about it,” she said. “I’ve been practicing shooting, and it felt good that we pulled through.”
Greenwood came out hot after halftime with a 10-2 run to tie the game again at 36 with 2:39 remaining in the third quarter.
But North answered with a 6-3 run of its own and led 42-39 heading into the final stanza.
Evans led Greenwood with 21 points and 11 rebounds.