|Tue, Sep 16, 2014 05:26 AM
|Issue of September 10, 2014
January 29, 2014 | 10:13 AM
There are moments when certain players can figure out if their confidence is back.
Returning from an early season sprained ankle, along with missing all of his freshman year due to injury, North Harrison forward Chandler Jenkins is finding his form.
It just so happens, Jenkins is shining at the right moments — winning moments — for the Cougars.
For the second consecutive game, the sophomore came up with the game-winner for North Harrison, this time a 67-65 overtime thriller at Lanesville Friday night.
After the game-winning shot fell off the rim and into the hoop, shot-maker Chandler Jenkins, left, celebrates with Gage Arnold and coach Greg Walters. (click for larger version)
"It's a confidence booster, but, most importantly, it was two good team wins in a row," said Jenkins, who also had the winner against Floyd Central the previous Saturday.
Following a North Harrison time out, holding the ball with 18 seconds left, the Cougars patiently waited for the clock to tick down while the scoreboard read 65-65. With the Lanesville defense collapsing on Jenkins near the paint, he attempted to pass the ball out of a trap, but a scrum for the rock ensued in front of the North Harrison bench.
The ball eventually found its way back into Jenkins' hands, and the sophomore put up a 10-foot shot near the endline. Hanging on the front of the rim, the ball, in the end, fell through the net as the horn sounded, giving the Cougars four straight wins along with a rousing celebration.
"Joe (Hinton) passed it to me, and I was going to drive it but two defenders came to me," Jenkins said of the play. "I tried to kick it to (Austin) Nolot and, when I lost the ball, I thought I had lost us the game. I somehow picked it up and shot it. That couldn't have gone in again if it had to. It just hung there."
North Harrison coach Greg Walters said he had a feeling the ball was going to go in when Jenkins let it go.
"It hung up there for a while," he said. "Kind of the way the game was going, when he shot it, it felt like it should go in. There was many crazy shots that went in throughout the game."
From the angle of Lanesville coach Mikel Miller, he thought the defensive stand was nearly long enough to force another OT.
"As I told them at the end, we didn't lose that game," Miller said. "We touched it three times at the end in the scramble, and they picked it up and threw it up. It went in, but that's basketball, the bounce of it."
Both teams had a bit of adversity to overcome in the extra session. Each lost their respective top scoring players — Cory Smith for North Harrison and Jack Ferree for Lanesville — when both were whistled for fifth fouls via charge calls within the first 90 seconds.
Without the sharp-shooting Smith, North Harrison's Alex Flock picked up the slack with a right-wing triple to give the Cougars a 63-61 edge.
Lanesville came back to knot the game with a jumper by Jason Harmon.
Both teams turned over the ball on their next possessions until Jenkins gave North Harrison the lead again with a drive to the hoop with 57 seconds left.
Back to attacking, Micah Lane drove, drawing a foul with 47 seconds on the clock. Swishing both freebies, it set up the thrilling finale by Jenkins and the Cougars.
"There were a lot of injuries early in the season with Joseph breaking his hand and Chandler with an ankle sprain," Walters said of the Cougars finding an identity. "We weren't able to get the guys out there we foresaw the start of the season. Finally, we have that mixture."
Coming into the fourth quarter, Lanesville had a five-point lead, 49-44. A 7-2 North Harrison run, paced by a Hinton 3-pointer and buckets by Jenkins and Nolot, eventually knotted the game.
Lanesville would extend its lead back to four on two different occasions. Ryan Fulkerson had seven of his 14 points in the quarter, with a single free throw with 2:26 to go, giving the Eagles a 60-56 edge.
That would be the last points in regulation for Lanesville, while Nolot hit a field goal with 1:41 remaining, cutting the deficit to two. Nearly a minute later, Nolot took a hand-off from Jenkins to score the equalizer.
Lanesville had a shot at the end of the fourth, but Jack Ferree's attempt rimmed off, holding the score steady at 60.
"Kids played their hearts out," Miller said of his Lanesville players. "They were very disappointed afterwards, but I told them we made a lot of strides tonight. Practices were much better this week, so we have to come back Monday and build off that."
The Cougars appeared early in the game as if they were going to run away with the victory. Before foul trouble plagued Smith, he carried a hot hand in the first quarter, knocking down four treys. Nolot chipped in a three, eventually helping North Harrison lead 24-14 in the early going.
Lanesville began its rally, which included a buzzer-beating acrobatic effort from Jack Ferree. Racing back for a loose ball near the "Purple Pride" writing on the Lanesville hardwood, Ferree put up a one-handed shot that banked in.
Carrying the momentum over, Lanesville tied the score midway through the second period with Harmon scoring from a Fulkerson drive and dish.
North Harrison would extend the lead back out to five, but back-to-back 3-pointers from Lanesville's Tate Stilger gave the Eagles a one-point, 36-35, halftime edge.
"Tate hit those two big threes before the end of the half to get us some great momentum," Miller said.
At the half, Walters' message to his team was to get defensive stops and rebound. The Cougars shot 70 percent in the half but were being out-rebounded, 16-5.
"We got crushed in the first half on the boards, then we won the second half on the boards," Walters said. "That was a big key to the game for us to get back in it. We went through some adversity with Cory fouling out because he was shooting the ball real well early and then we couldn't keep him in the game because he was in foul trouble."
Nolot led North Harrison in scoring with 20 points, making 9 of 13 shots. As a team, the Cougars ended up shooting 59 percent from the field, including 9-of-19 3-pointers.
Smith finished with five 3-pointers and 18 points. Also reaching double figures were Jenkins (12) and Flock (10).
"They play hard when they get in the game and, being good teammates, cheering everybody on (when they are not in the game)," Walters said of his team's recent success. "As much as we were lacking early in the year with chemistry, we've seemed to have found it the last few weeks. Hopefully, the snow will hold off and we can keep playing."
Lanesville had the top overall scorer with Jack Ferree's 21 points. Fulkerson had 14 points and eight rebounds, while Harmon contributed 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting. The Eagles also played without Matthew Husband, who missed the game because of an illness.
"Even in a loss, we did a lot of positive things tonight we can build on," Miller said. "There was a lot of good team play tonight. We're still playing a man down, so our bench isn't as deep. We had to extend some kids tonight and they may have been a little fatigued, but they sucked it up and played through it."
Miller applauded the effort of sophomore Joe Ferree, who played all 36 minutes, scoring eight points and dishing three assists.
"I told him during the day that he had to be prepared to play all 32 minutes and he told me after the game that I lied to him," Miller said. "He said, 'Not only did I play 32, but I had to play 36.' He's really coming around. He didn't score from what he normally would, but he ran the team and distributed the ball very well."
The Eagles made 24 of 30 free throws, while North Harrison made six of eight.
With the win, North Harrison looks to keep the good times rolling.
"We're going in the right direction," Jenkins said. "We're starting to click, and working hard on defense has helped us out, too."
North Harrison (6-6) will face a pair of games this weekend, welcoming West Washington (homecoming) to Ramsey on Friday before heading to Class 3A No. 12 Madison on Saturday. Both varsity games will tip at 7:30 p.m. Madison is coming off of an upset overtime victory over defending Class 3A state champion No. 1 Greensburg.
Lanesville (8-6), meanwhile, will host Eastern (Pekin) on Friday at 7:30 p.m., followed by hosting 2A No. 14 Perry Central (8-0) on Saturday at 8 p.m.
North Harrison 24 11 9 16 7 – 67
Lanesville 19 17 13 11 5 – 65
North Harrison (6-6) – Nolot 20, Smith 18, Jenkins 12, Flock 10, Hinton 5, Mink 2.
Lanesville (8-6) – Ja. Ferree 21, Fulkerson 14, Harmon 12, Jo. Ferree 8, T. Stilger 6, Lane 2, Frazier 2.
3-point goals – North Harrison 9 (Smith 5, Flock 2, Nolot, Hinton); Lanesville 5 (Ja. Ferree 2, T. Stilger 2, Jo. Ferree).