When a high-intensity defensive game turned offensive-minded, the North Central Panthers turned to 6-foot-5 Nariah Taylor for some big-time scoring in their 50-48 overtime victory over Columbus North in the Class 4A girls state basketball final.
Taylor scored 10 of the last 12 points for her team in regulation time, including a rebound bucket at the buzzer to tie the game at 42-all. In overtime, her two free throws with 0.8 seconds on the clock provided the winning margin.
Columbus North freshman Ali Patberg's shot from just past midcourt bounced off the rim as the overtime buzzer sounded. Patberg scored 12 points in the final 5:22 of regulation to help her Bull Dogs keep pace with North Central.
Columbus North struggled mightily in the first quarter, hitting just 1-of-13 shots, and trailed 13-4 at the first break. North Central took its turn struggling in the second quarter, getting outscored 15-3. Neither team could muster much offense through three quarters, and the game was tied at 25-all with 6:15 left in the fourth quarter.
That's when things turned frenetic. There were 10 ties and lead changes in the final 10:15 of play.
Taylor totaled 18 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots for Coach DeeAnn Ramey's unranked Panthers, who finished their season at 23-5. Celeste Edwards had 10 points and five assists.
North Central had five tournament victories over top-10 teams, including 10th-ranked Columbus North. It was North Central's third appearance in the state final game. The Panthers won back-to-back titles in 2004 and 2005.
Coach Pat McKee's Bull Dogs finished 23-4 after starting the season 4-3. It was Columbus North's first appearance in the girls final after the team won its first regional and semi-state.
Patberg led the Bull Dogs with 19 points and added eight rebounds and six assists. Taylor Goodall scored 17 points with a team-high 10 rebounds.
Rachael Gregory named Roy Mental Attitude Award Winner Following the game, members of the IHSAA Executive Committee named Rachael Gregory of North Central High School as the winner of the Patricia L. Roy Mental Attitude Award in Class 4A Girls Basketball.
The award is presented annually to a senior participant in each classification who was nominated by her principal and coach and has demonstrated excellence in mental attitude, scholarship, leadership and athletic ability.
Gregory maintains a 4.0 GPA, is a member of the National Honor Society, and has been named Academic All-Conference in basketball, volleyball and track and field during her prep career.
She is the daughter of Curtis and Cheryl Strode-Gregory of Indianapolis and will attend the University at Buffalo after being accepted into its Civil Engineering program on a merit scholarship.
Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance, the IHSAA's corporate partner, will present a $1,000 scholarship to North Central High School in the name of Gregory.
The award is named in honor of the former IHSAA assistant commissioner Patricia L. Roy, who oversaw the girls basketball state tournament from its inception in 1976 until her retirement in 1999.
Taylor powers North Central to Class 4A State Championship
Nariah Taylor scored 10 of the last 12 points for her team in regulation time, including a rebound bucket at the buzzer to tie the game at 42-all.
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