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Time to shine: North guard makes most of minutes

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Columbus North senior Garrett Larson battles Hauser sophomore Mason Ramsey for a rebound in a game at Hauser this earlier this season.
Columbus North senior Garrett Larson battles Hauser sophomore Mason Ramsey for a rebound in a game at Hauser this earlier this season. FILE PHOTO

If Columbus North senior point guard Garrett Larson seems to be in a hurry these days, you can understand his position.

After all, it’s tough being a sixth man in high school basketball where the quarters are just eight minutes long. He has to make his mark quickly.

Then consider this is his final season on a team that is expected to take a big step forward in the playoff accomplishment department.

“It takes a little more mental toughness,” North coach Jason Speer said of Larson’s role as the sixth man. “You have to be ready to go when your number is called. For us to ask him to come off the bench and be the floor leader is a tough situation for him. But he’s always been the kind of kid who has done what’s been asked of him.”

The Garrett Larson file

WHO: Columbus North’s 6-foot-1 sixth man and point guard

STATS: 4.3 points per game, nine assists

CLASS: Senior

NEXT GAME: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Pike

Larson definitely has been ready to go. His play has made it obvious that Columbus North has more starting player talent than starting positions.

“Whenever I am on the bench, I get my mind ready to be in the game,” Larson said. “I know they rely on my ball handling. I have to get the ball to people in the right places.”

“He’s one of those kids who can make a difference for us,” Speer said. “He gives us that primary ball handler off the bench along with his defensive skills. He is a quiet leader.

“He also is our most improved player, both mentally and physically. He has been so much more aggressive offensively, and defensively he has been willing to take on the super-tough defensive assignment.”

Larson, who has been averaging just under 16 minutes a game, will have his hands full Friday as North travels to Pike for a 7:30 p.m. game. Speer said Pike definitely has some future Division I college basketball players in its lineup.

Pike downed North 78-51 last season and 77-50 the previous year and has compiled a 5-0 record this season.

“Our mind is in a better place this season,” Larson said. “We think we can win every game. But Pike probably is our toughest matchup. We really have to bring it.”

The Bull Dogs will be hard pressed to match Pike’s energy for four quarters, but Speer has a deeper roster this season and more weapons to bring off the bench like Larson.

“Garrett is able to adjust to a situation quickly,” Speer said. “He has been groomed for this position.”

While Larson doesn’t take the floor for the opening tap, he has been on the floor at crunch time.

“When times are tough and we’re getting pressed at the end of a game, he has made the big free throws,” Speer said.

He also has been the “small man” on a team that boasts great size. At 6-foot-1, Larson is the second-shortest player on North’s roster after 5-9 senior reserve Gabe Hilt.

“When I walk around school, I don’t feel small,” he said. “But when I am with the team I do. They don’t tease me, though. They kid Gabe.”

Larson is averaging 4.3 points a game, and he has the second-most assists on the team with nine (senior guard Sawyer Glick has 12).

The Bull Dogs go into Friday’s Conference Indiana showdown on a roll at 4-0. Sophomore Josh Speidel leads the team in scoring at 16.5 points a game. Center Tori Jackson has averaged just under a double-double with 11 points per game and nine rebounds a game. Guard Evan Henry has averaged 15 points per game.

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