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Lambert's 37 not enough vs. FC

North Harrison senior Kendra Lambert drives to the basket against Floyd Central's Abbie Engle in the second half of her 37-point game against the Lady Highlanders, who came away with the 78-71 win. Photo by Wade Bell (click for larger version)
December 18, 2013 | 10:55 AM

North Harrison senior Kendra Lambert set a new game high for herself Saturday night, scoring 37 points against the Floyd Central Lady Highlanders, bettering her previous best of 34 set earlier this year against Jasper. It wasn't enough, however, as the Lady Highlanders pulled out a 78-71 win against the Lady Cats.

"You can't completely complain when your offense scores 71 points, but you can complain about what your defense was doing," North Harrison coach Missy Voyles said.

"At this point, any win is a good win for us," said Floyd Central coach Kirk Hamsley, whose team got its first win since the season-opener against Evansville Harrison, coming into the game at 1-5. "We'd like to be 5-1. We've got to go to practice every day and work and go to the next thing. Hopefully, you feel like you're improving. You're not losing by 20 or 30. You're in every game. We just have to learn how to close the deal."

The Lady Highlanders got the better start with a 7-2 lead. Jill Book and Lambert pushed the Lady Cats back to the front with a 6-0 burst, but Floyd Central's Riley Kaiser countered with a three. Carlie Burson and Lambert answered for North Harrison.

Brianna Roth scored inside for the Lady Highlanders, but Lambert answered from behind the arc. Floyd Central, however, finished out the 90 seconds with eight straight points for a 21-15 lead after one quarter.

Both Lambert and the Lady Cats had to make some adjustments when the North Harrison senior was called for her second foul near the end of the period.

"She kind of had to back up," Voyles said. "We got a couple of tight calls, and you wouldn't think you would get that tight call at home on your best player that quickly."

"That changed what they could do," Hamsley said. "She was in and out and off balance there. She still played a heck of a game. She had 37 and foul trouble."

Floyd Central quickened the pace in the second period with a 6-1 burst to lead 27-16 following an Abbie Engle drive. From there, the scoring went back and forth until Engle scored the last three points on a deuce-plus-one, giving the Lady Highlanders a 38-28 advantage at halftime.

Voyles said Floyd Central's up-tempo game caught her and her team off-guard.

"Everything I've watched them on tape in the last two weeks has been slow," Voyles said. "I guess he's made a decision recently that he needs to play faster, because that's not the way I had seen them play up to date. You'd think after the first minute we'd catch on, but I wasn't very pleased with us. We were not sprinting back. We were not getting where we should defensively. You shouldn't get beat up and down the floor that easily, and we were. It took us two quarters to catch on, that we need to get back on defense."

Floyd Central began the second half with an 8-2 run, scoring all of its points in the paint to lead 46-31. Floyd Central's advantage later went to 57-40 after a deuce-and-one by Maddie Probus. The Lady Cats finally got a burst late in the period with a 6-2 run, pulling back to within 11, 60-49, with one quarter left.

Lambert finally found her range late in the fourth with a long deuce and three-ball. Hayley Elliott cashed in a free single, pulling the Lady Cats back within single digits, 72-63, with 1:21 to go.

Floyd Central countered with three free throws, but Lambert answered with eight straight points. North Harrison ran out of clock, however, with the Lady Highlanders getting the 78-71 win.

"There was a couple of lapses down in that (final) stretch that didn't help any," Voyles said. "You come down and score and then you come down the other way and give up a three-point play. If you're going to hit the shooter, hit the shooter. I don't know how many times they fouled somebody and halfway made up a basket and made a three-point play out of it. That happened way too many times."

Lambert connected on four three's and 11 of 14 free throws in her 37-point effort. North Harrison (6-3) was 22 of 61 (36 percent) from the field and 23 of 38 from the free-throw line. The Lady Cats had 13 turnovers.

"It's bad that we lost, but a career high is kind of exciting," Lambert said. "If we would have made more free throws, we would have won the game ... We knew we had to get them in foul trouble early so we could sit some players down and get some other players in. We also knew we had to make free throws."

"She's very competitive and really kind of come into her own as a player this year," Voyles said of her senior. "I'm very pleased with the way she's leading and the way she's playing. She doesn't get frustrated. I think that showed tonight."

Floyd Central put five players in double figures. Riley Kaiser led the way with 18 points, with her sister, Madison, right behind with 17. Brooke Hinton, Engle and Roth each had 11 for the Lady Highlanders. Floyd Central hit 28 of 55 field-goal attempts (51 percent) and 21 of 29 free throws and had 14 turnovers.

Voyles said she and her team would put this game behind them and move on to the next one.

"We start prepping for this next week," she said. "I'd like to see them go into break at 8-3. This is a group of kids that's never done that. Last year, at this time, if we had got down by 16, we'd have lost by 30. They're showing a lot of heart, and they're showing a lot of fight. They know how to come back. That's something I've not seen."

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