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North Harrison's Kendra Lambert dives to tie up the ball with New Albany's Marissa Jones while fellow Lady Cat Jill Book (4) provides help. Photos by Brian Smith (click for larger version)

Lady Cats rally past 'Dogs


December 11, 2013 | 11:21 AM

Overcoming less than desirable starts to a game isn't something the North Harrison girls' basketball team intends to continue.

However, in two games last week, the Lady Cats started slow but managed to pick up the pace to deliver a pair of wins over Jasper (61-52) and New Albany (48-41).

Traveling to New Albany on Thursday prior to the winter storm that came through the area, North Harrison gave up a huge first quarter to the hosts. Racking up 20 first-quarter points, New Albany was able to lead 20-12. Paced by another monstrous game out of senior Kendra Lambert and a defense that tightened up, North Harrison limited the Lady Bulldogs to 21 points the rest of the way to come away with a 48-41 victory.

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North Harrison's Cammie Jones gets off a shot in traffic versus New Albany Thursday. (click for larger version)
Coming off a career night against Jasper last Tuesday when Lambert tallied 34 points, she was equally impressive versus New Albany. She would finish the game with a double-double, scoring 18 points and pulling down 11 rebounds.

"She's stepping up and being a good senior leader," North Harrison coach Missy Voyles said. "She's going out there with the mentality that she is the best player on the court. That's great to see because we've been working on that. She's being a good team leader, playing with a lot of young kids."

New Albany was able to get open looks in the opening quarter, including a string of three consecutive 3-pointers to open a quick 12-6 lead. Marissa Jones made good on a pair of triples, while Brittany Knight, a transfer from North Harrison, hit one.

The Lady Bulldogs' lead grew to nine, 16-7, before Lambert buried a 3-pointer of her own.

Holding a 20-12 edge after the first eight minutes didn't last long into the second quarter for New Albany. Racing out to a 8-0 start in the second, the Lady Cats knotted the game. Stevi Burns hit a field goal for the Lady Cats, while Lambert showed off her ability to get up and down the hardwood.

Taking a quick outlet from Burns, Lambert converted an old-fashioned 3-point play. Lambert, who pulled down five boards in the key quarter, quickly got into the front court again to reach the free-throw line, leading to the 20-all score.

Proving the second quarter was made up of runs, New Albany scored the next six points, all from Brianne Nixon. Bouncing back, North Harrison closed the half on a 5-1 run to trail by two at the break. Burns nailed a triple near the end.

The slow start was something Voyles didn't want to happen.

"Basically, I felt we were playing a game of opposite," she said. "Everything I told them to do from the scouting report, we did the opposite. I did ask them at the end of the first quarter why I waste my time scouting games because that was not what we were doing. Everything I said, we did the opposite. We didn't come out ready to play."

Voyles said the start was similar to the game against Jasper when the Lady Cats trailed 16-7.

Like the game against Jasper, North Harrison was able to come back and get the win against New Albany.

North Harrison took a one-point lead, 34-33, with 2:05 to play in the third quarter when Jill Book dished an assist to Cammie Jones for an easy deuce.

The Lady Cats' lead grew to 36-34 at the end of the third quarter when the speedy Burns converted a pair of free throws after being hacked on a breakaway after picking off a pass. Nine turnovers by the Lady Bulldogs helped North Harrison in the frame.

Playing with the lead, the Lady Cats held the advantage the final eight minutes. Carlie Burson joined the scoring fray with a bucket off an under-the-basket inbound play.

It would be the only field goal North Harrison had in the fourth quarter as free throws took over. Leading to the freebie opportunities, the Lady Cats were able to pound the ball to tick plenty of time off the clock.

North Harrison went 10 of 13 at the line in the final quarter, led by five makes by Book.

Getting to the foul line was key for the Lady Cats after struggling to shoot from the field.

"We struggled offensively," Voyles said. "They are big, and we're not. We're not going to get a lot of powered-up shots; we'll have to create a little different off the dribble and with outside shots against a team that tall."

The wins during the week brings the Lady Cats to 5-2 on the young season.

"It's just good for us to win games," Voyles said. "It's been a struggle for Kendra through high school, and it's good to see them get out and win some games. I hope they get that winning attitude and want to continue to roll with that."

One of the keys to winning is the ability to stay mentally focused when trailing games early.

"Last year, at this point of the year, if we would have gotten down 11-6 in the first quarter, you wouldn't have seen us recover," Voyles said. "We're fighting back, and that's a big sign we're playing to win. They aren't getting rattled when things don't go well."

Lambert — one of two seniors on the team — has been a key cog to provide leadership.

"I think she has finally come into herself a little bit," Voyles said of Lambert. "I've always felt she is a very humble player. She always walked out there and played the game and let the game come to her. Now, she's coming to the game. It's just maturity."

North Harrison also has some players who have returned to the varsity team. Kim Chiquito and Burson saw action in recent games after injuries slowed their starts.

Burns, a freshman for the Lady Cats, tallied nine points in the win against New Albany while Book added eight.

Leading the Lady Bulldogs (1-2) in scoring was Nixon with 12 points, while Knight had eight.

North Harrison's next contest will be tonight (Wednesday) when the Lady Cats play at South Central. The Lady Cats will be home Saturday to host Floyd Central. Both games will tip at 7:30 p.m.

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