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North Harrison's Joseph Hinton tries to hold off South Central's Ben Cunningham for a rebound last Tuesday. Photos by Brian Smith (click for larger version)

Cougars use big lead, hold off South Central


NH's Smith scores 28


December 04, 2013 | 09:19 AM

Last Tuesday marked the first time North Harrison made the trip to the southern portion of Harrison County to square off against South Central since the 2009 match-up in boys' basketball action.

Sharp-shooting Cory Smith didn't mind the iron in Rebels country, netting 28 points for North Harrison, leading to a 60-52 season-opening victory for the Cougars.

The season opener in 2011 was moved from South Central to Ramsey at the last minute due to a water leak at the main gymnasium in Elizabeth. In Ryan Crick's debut on the sideline for South Central that year, the Rebels were able to pull off the upset. This year, South Central trailed by as many as 19 late in the third quarter before making a charge back in the final frame.

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North Harrison guard Cory Smith drives the lane, splitting South Central defenders, including Zach Goodwin (33), to attempt a lay-up. Smith finished with a game-best 28 points. (click for larger version)
"We played well for a good stretch," North Harrison coach Greg Walters said. "Of the eight guys we played, five of them had never really been in a varsity game. It was good to get that experience tonight."

Making his debut for North Harrison, Cameron Mink got in the score book quickly, netting the season's first basket. Mink, a move-in from Jeffersonville, is among the players debuting at the varsity level for Walters.

Getting into a groove early, Smith tallied four field goals in the opening quarter, including a deep straight-away triple. A steal and lay-in by Mink gave North Harrison a quick 13-4 lead, prompting Crick to burn a second time-out.

"Turnovers was the game," Crick said. "We had 21 for the game and 11 by halftime. (North Harrison) had seven turnovers for the game and had 16 steals. North Harrison is a very good basketball team and will do very well this year. The way they shoot the basketball, they will continue to get better."

Nick Wemes helped South Central cut North Harrison's lead to 15-9 by the end of the first quarter with a 3-pointer.

North Harrison was able to use pressure defense in the back court to cause disruption, forcing 11 first-half turnovers.

"We closed out well on shooters for the most part," Walters said. "We were able to create some havoc with our press to get them sped up."

Crick said his team expected to see the press from North Harrison, but the coach didn't like how his team attacked the scheme.

"I told our kids that South Central was South Central tonight; we killed ourself," Crick said. "We did things we don't do in practice — making one-handed passes, guys leaving their feet — stupid turnovers."

Ben Cunningham made a late second-quarter field goal to cut North Harrison's lead to 26-19 in a back-and-forth frame.

Looking for the last shot of the half, North Harrison missed, but a rebound by South Central didn't provide a breakaway. Whistled for a double dribble, the Rebels turned the ball over, presenting the Cougars with an out-of-bounds play under their own basket.

Shaking through a screen, Smith freed himself from the left wing to bury a 3-pointer at the buzzer, giving the Cougars a 29-19 halftime lead.

"That was the one guy you don't want to give that shot to, and we left him," Crick said.

To start the second half, South Central used an Alex Goforth triple to cut the North Harrison lead back to seven.

From that point on, the Cougars roared forward on a 14-2 run. Joseph Hinton and Smith nailed 3-point goals, while Mink swished a freebie. After being fouled on a three attempt, Smith made all three attempts to grow North Harrison's lead to the biggest of the night, 43-24. During the run, four of Smith's 10 third-quarter points came off drives to the lane.

"We talked as a whole team trying to get to the paint," Walters said. "Nolot is a good driver but had an off night tonight. Joseph is a great player off the bounce, and Cameron Mink was able to get to the rim several times early to score. We have that ability."

South Central scored 24 points in the final quarter to make a run at the Cougars.

Goforth and Smith swapped baskets midway through with the Cougars still leading 54-39.

The next trip down the floor, Zach Goodwin converted an old-fashioned 3-point play. However, after the bucket, North Harrison was whistled for a player technical.

Five points swung the direction of South Central, trimming the lead to 10, 54-44.

After a series of passes the next trip down the floor, Goforth knocked down a triple, making it a seven-point game with three minutes to play.

The Rebels, however, would manage only two more field goals the rest of the way.

"We were up 16 in the fourth quarter, then, the technical with the and-one, they were able to cut it down," Walters said. "We got a little panicky, but it's a real good learning situation to be in. The guys were able to calm down and execute. We had three guys foul out, so there were some issues rebounding late when our post guys fouled out."

Post players Dayton Van Uitert and Gage Arnold dealt with foul trouble much of the game, fouling out in the fourth quarter along with Alex Flock.

South Central was able to place four players in double-figure scoring. Cunningham led with a double double, scoring 12 points and pulling down 13 boards. Wemes and Goforth finished with 11 points each, while Goodwin contributed 10.

"Ben had a big game on the boards tonight," Crick said. "We are not a high offensive team right now. We'll beat teams this year by doing all the little things we preach in practice every day. Hopefully, the guys take that away from tonight."

North Harrison was paced by Smith's 28 points. Hinton and Nolot finished with eight points each, while Flock and Mink added seven each.

Walters walked away pleased with the win but found some areas that need work.

"We happened to take a few bad shots when they went man to man," Walters said. "We probably could have gotten to the third or fourth side of the floor before we looked to attack. We are a run-and-gun type team and, when we had that lead, we were trying to get a good look and beat them off the bounce. We didn't do it at the times we should have protected the big lead a little better."

North Harrison will host rival Corydon Central Friday at 7:30 p.m. The Cougars will visit Henryville the following night.

South Central's next contest was supposed to be Friday against Meade County (Ky.), but that game has been rescheduled for Jan. 28 due to the Greenwave playing in the Kentucky State Football finals. The Rebels will host Evansville Day Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

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