|Wed, Apr 23, 2014 05:13 AM
December 18, 2013 | 10:48 AM
South Central's main objective in last Wednesday's game against its northern-most Harrison County rival was to slow prolific North Harrison scorer Kendra Lambert.
It took some time during the course of the contest for the Lady Cats to recognize on the floor that the attention Lambert drew left teammates open. Once North Harrison made the adjustment, the Lady Cats went on to win 62-48 behind 18 points from Lambert.
"There were some wide-open things they didn't see," North Harrison coach Missy Voyles said. "They have the tendency to put the ball on top of our heads and look for Kendra instead of looking for what is open. We could have scored 40 points inside tonight, and it took until the third quarter to recognize that."
North Harrison forward Haley Elliot goes up for a shot while being defended by South Central's Victoria Salle. (click for larger version)
Although the game didn't go the way the Lady Rebels had hoped in the scoring column, South Central coach Randall Schoen saw improvements with his team.
"I thought this was one of our better games of the season," Schoen said. "We had a couple girls play exceptionally well for us."
Eclipsing a milestone also occurred during the game. Senior guard Kelsey Miller added her name to the list of 1,000-point scorers at South Central. For the game, Miller led all scorers with 22 points, with many coming in the second half. She made it a double-double with 10 rebounds.
"She needed eight tonight to get it," Schoen said. "We talked about, if she got it at a dead ball, we could announce it. We'll give her the ball before the Corydon game."
Attacking the basket helped Miller not only put in six field goals, but get to the charity stripe 15 times. Making good on 10 free throws added to her scoring total.
Schoen said Miller scoring off the bounce has helped expand her game.
"She's not shooting very well from the 3-point line, and it's more mental with her because she's worried about it," Schoen said. "We work with her in practice on getting more arc on her shot, but she's thinking about it more. I tell her to just shoot it. Don't worry about it; go do it."
It was a tight game in the early going. Sabra Walker, who hit three treys for South Central, hit one midway through the first quarter to give her team an 8-7 edge.
North Harrison took full advantage of an 11-0 run to take a commanding lead to close the opening period. Shaylah Neal put in a hook shot followed by Kim Chiquito banking in a field goal. Also part of the spurt was a Stevi Burns bucket, then Lambert stealing an inbound pass for an easy deuce. The quarter ended with Lambert nailing a 3-pointer, North Harrison's lone trey.
The slow start is something Voyles would like her young team to eliminate.
"Our focus, especially early, isn't there," she said. "We let people play with us the first four or five minutes, showing our early focus in games is very immature. We are playing a freshman and four sophomores, so that probably has something to do with it."
South Central was able to keep the game tight in a low-scoring second quarter. Both teams made two field goals each, with one from the Lady Rebels being a Walker triple.
North Harrison managed to get to the foul line to make four freebies to lead, 26-14, at the break.
"Our whole scheme coming in was to control Lambert," Schoen said. "I thought we did a real good job in the first half. Late in the game she got loose, but she's going to get points. You're not going to hold her down because she's a good ball player."
Adding to the lead wasn't something North Harrison was able to do as both teams played one another fairly evenly in the scoring column in the second half.
South Central cut the lead to 34-26 when Miller scored on a drive to the hoop to record her 1,001st point. That momentum slowed a bit when Carlie Burson scored an old-fashioned 3-point play. Ending the third quarter with a Lambert field goal, North Harrison led 39-26.
The Lady Rebels cut the margin to eight a few times in the fourth quarter, but North Harrison's strong free-throw shooting in the final minutes (8 of 9) helped preserve the win.
"We never could get over the hump, but North Harrison came up with shots to keep us from getting closer," Schoen said. "It's not going to be any easier between here and Christmas. Hopefully, when we get through all this, by the time the new year rolls around, we'll be ready to go."
Voyles said the team struggled with recognizing South Central's top scorers in Miller and Walker, who closed with 11 points.
"It's recognition, recognizing they have two kids out there that are good shooters," Voyles said. "I can't tell you how many times we said guard these two and we failed to switch on screens. We didn't recognize 30 (Walker) was standing out there launching threes. Even in a man-to-man, we lost them. How do you do that?"
Burson would finish with 11 points, while Burns had eight. Nine different Lady Cats scored. On the boards, Voyles was pleased with Hayley Elliot pulling down 10 rebounds.
"It's good for her because we've been griping at her to rebound," Voyles said.
For the Lady Rebels, Schoen said the team is adjusting to not shooting the ball well in the early season.
"Once we could expose some weaknesses, we couldn't take advantage of it," Schoen said. "I'm used to having really good shooting teams, so it's kind of different that, when we wouldn't play our best defense, we would put points up. We're just struggling with getting points right now."
The team has been working in practice to play to each teammate's strength.
"I'm not sure we are doing that just yet consistently," Schoen said. "Overall, other than losing the ballgame, I feel like it was our best ballgame so far this year. It's something we can really build on."
North Harrison will return home tomorrow (Thursday) to face Salem at 7:30 p.m. The game at Columbus East, originally slated for Dec. 7, has been rescheduled for Jan. 3.
Meanwhile, South Central will play Friday at Christian Academy of Indiana, part of a girls-boys double header. The Lady Rebels also will host Barr-Reeve on Saturday before participating in the Gibson County Classic next week.