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Whiteland flirts with upset, falls to North

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For an instant Tuesday night at Columbus North High School, the Whiteland girls basketball team was flirting with a possible upset of the

No. 1-ranked Bull Dogs.

Then, seemingly in the blink of an eye, the threat was pretty much over.

Lady Warriors’ coach Kyle Shipp had it right when he said North’s 59-44 victory was accomplished because of “a little too much Ali Patberg.”

In that third quarter, Whiteland (9-10) cut North’s lead to 33-25 on two free throws by freshman Kate White. North was out of sorts on offense and Whiteland was a couple of defensive stands away from pushing the Bull Dogs (21-0) to the limit.

Instead, though, Patberg took over. After North’s Kelsey Cunningham dropped a 3-ball, Patberg steadied the North offense with a three-point play, two more drives where she hit one of two free throws, and then another driving bucket. Whiteland suddenly was down 43-30 early in the fourth quarter and North was cruising.

Even though the Lady Warriors made a statement with some excellent play, Shipp said there was no sense that just pushing the state’s top team was good enough. “We expected nothing less than a victory,” Shipp said. “I’m proud of our effort and the way we competed. But we fully expected to win this game.”

Patberg wasn’t about to let it happen. She finished with 24 points and basically willed the Bull Dogs to the victory. In the second quarter, with North leading 18-13, Patberg scored six points during a 9-0 run that left the Bull Dogs ahead 25-16 at halftime.

“That’s what great players do,” 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.”

Senior Kaitlyn Phillips had 13 points for Whiteland. “Kaitlyn played her tail off,” Shipp said.

He also said that Chelsea Perry (nine points), Sydney Mize (eight points) and Kate White (six points) had solid games.

“I can’t speak highly enough of our effort,” he said. “We’ve played one of the hardest schedules in the state and this was a fun place to play, a good, hostile environment. And that is a team that can beat you multiple ways.”

Patberg said she knew her team needed a little extra spark against Whiteland. “Sometimes when we aren’t playing our best, I need to pick it up,” she said. “We struggled today.”

Although North got it done, Patberg said the team can’t be too pleased with its effort. “We can’t wait until they make it a game to start playing,” she said.

North had balanced scoring after Patberg’s 24 with Hannah Poindexter and Kelsey Cunningham scoring eight, Tayler Goodall producing seven and Hanna Ballard having six points.

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