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Offense rolling along for Lady Cats


December 24, 2013 | 09:10 AM

North Harrison's strong defense and potent offense in the second quarter rolled up 27 points getting past visiting Salem 77-50 Thursday night in Ramsey.

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Powering up for an inside shot, North Harrison's Shaylah Neal draws contact from a Salem defender. The sophomore was a rebound away from a double-double. Photo by Brian Smith (click for larger version)
For the third time this season, the Lady Cats eclipsed the 70-point plateau, showing the offensive firepower they are capable of. Leading scorer Kendra Lambert tallied 20 points, but two other Lady Cats reached double-figure scoring: Shaylah Neal with 14 points and Carlie Burson with 12. Neal was a rebound away from a double-double, corralling nine boards.

"It was a pretty solid night," North Harrison coach Missy Voyles said. "I'm pleased to go into the break with that performance."

Part of the 27-point second quarter was a 15-0 run leading to the break. Crashing the boards, Burns came up with a loose ball after Jourdan McAfee hit one of two free throws to score a field goal.

Next up was Jill Book, knifing through the lane for a contested lay-in. Her field goal gave North Harrison a 32-23 lead, but the Lady Cats weren't finished.

Making her presence felt inside, Neal took over in the paint. She went to the foul line four straight times, the final coming on an old-fashioned 3-point play after Lambert sent a lob to No. 23's way. Although Neal missed her first three free throws, she settled in to make her final six tries.

"It was a great game for Shaylah," Voyles said. "She was one rebound away from a double-double. She needs to have that big jump and needed this big game."

Late in the second quarter, Neal snagged one of her nine rebounds and sent a quick outlet pass to Book for an easy two points. The 15-0 run was capped by Lambert putting in two points following a Lady Lions turnover.

North Harrison would enjoy a 42-23 halftime lead.

"That was a good boost," Voyles said of the second quarter.

Effective at invading the rim against Salem, North Harrison visited the charity stripe several times. During the course of the game, the Lady Cats were 25 of 35 from the free-throw line. At the half, all five Salem starters had at least a pair of fouls.

"We attacked tonight," Voyles said. "You have to be able to do that because the 3 isn't always going to fall. We work on getting to the rim every day; it's transferring it to games. They did it better tonight."

North Harrison utilized its lone triple of the game, a bomb by Lambert, to gain the lead for good in the first quarter, 13-11.

A quick start to the second half by Salem saw the Lady Lions go on a 9-2 run, cutting the North Harrison margin to 44-32. Salem's leading scorer, Alex Davidson, had seven of her game-best 22 points within the spurt.

Seemingly not fazed by the Lady Lions, North Harrison continued its offensive assault similar to the end of the half. The Lady Cats ripped off 14 straight points. Six different Lady Cats — Cammie Jones, Elliot, Burson, Neal, Book and Burns — were part of the massive swing of points.

The run was interrupted slightly for one of the biggest cheers of the night when McAfee used her hops to free the round ball from its stuck position between the iron and glass on the Salem end.

North Harrison would lead 42-23 after three quarters, creating plenty of space between the teams for the Lady Cats.

The win improved North Harrison's record to 8-3. The Lady Cats now wait until 2014 (Jan. 3 make-up game at Columbus East) to play its next outing.

Voyles was encouraged by the aggressive nature of her players against Salem.

"It's the group I see at practice," she said. "They play like they did tonight at practice, but they tend to come into most games and look for Kendra all the time. They are better offensive players than I typically see in games this year. It was good to see them step up and play a little bit."

While Lambert had another big game, tallying 20 points, the crew around her is gaining confidence. The ability to find shots for all five players on the court has been a improvement Voyles pointed out at the mid-way point of the season.

"We're starting to look for our own shots," Voyles added. "We're used to running our offense, setting screens for Kendra, but the realization that they are open, too. They can face up and do some things. They did a good job of finding when they were open tonight."

North Harrison has won six of seven games, including a 55-48 victory on the road at Class 2A No. 9 Paoli last Tuesday.

Against Salem, the Lady Cats were not only powerful on the offensive end, but they forced 25 turnovers by the Lady Lions. One of the keys defensively has been the disruptive nature Burns, a freshman, presents at the top of the key.

"Her strength is the top of the defense," Voyles said. "She has really quick hands and feet. She reeks a lot of havoc up there. There is a lot of things we pick at her about, but she played pretty well."

With the break, Voyles said the players will get several days off. The program looks to get injured guard Kim Chiquito back some time after Christmas. Voyles said she likes Chiquito's ball-handling abilities.

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