|Sun, Mar 09, 2014 04:09 PM
February 05, 2014 | 12:03 PM
Varsity games typically tip around 7:30 most nights throughout Indiana.
It may have taken the North Harrison girls' basketball team a few minutes post-jump ball to get things rolling last Tuesday, but when they did, the Lady Cats turned it on.
Despite an early eight-point deficit, North Harrison roared back to lead by as many as 18 at rival Corydon Central. The large fourth-quarter lead was enough, despite a spirited rally by the Lady Panthers, for a final 55-51 score. Reaching a milestone for Corydon Central was senior Marie Rothrock, netting her 1,000th career point in the third quarter.
Rolling out a starting five that includes three young sophomores around the 20-point-plus average of senior Kendra Lambert, North Harrison had the first taste of victory over Corydon Central since the 2008-09 season.
"They've been pretty shaky this year because it is a lot of young kids playing," North Harrison coach Missy Voyles said. "Sometimes we start a freshman, and we typically play four sophomores. It's been a hard year for them just trying to figure out where to go and what to do."
Executing to gain the team's 10th win of the season was key on the defensive end and also with players around Lambert hitting timely shots.
"I tell them that, if my 3 o'clock team shows up at 7:30, we're going to be a pretty good basketball team," Voyles said.
Putting up another big game, Lambert finished with 25 points, with 23 coming in the final three quarters.
Leading by five points coming out of halftime, North Harrison's first possession saw Carlie Burson kick a pass to the top of the key for a Lambert trey. Unable to knock down a triple in the first half, North Harrison benefited from two out of the gate in the second. A few possessions later, Jourdan McAfee came down with an offensive rebound leading to another bomb by Lambert.
The bucket opened the North Harrison lead to 31-21.
"They took us out of things we wanted to do, and our girls didn't react well to it," Corydon Central coach Michael Uhl said. "Lambert stepped up and hit shots when it was time to hit shots. It got us on our heels a little bit. You can't lose her. She scores so well in so many different ways and, when we lost her, she made us pay."
Corydon Central had a modest 6-2 run in the middle of the third period with buckets by Reagan Mosley and Ashley Oliver. Between those makes was a 2-point field goal from the left baseline by Rothrock. The swish marked the grand point for Rothrock to become the fifth Lady Panther to surpass 1,000 points. She finished the night with a team-best of 19.
Oliver's jumper cut North Harrison's margin to 33-27, but the Lady Cats turned up their offense in the final minutes of the quarter.
Jill Book and Lambert picked off passes to race down the hardwood for lay-ins. The 10-3 run also included scores by Hayley Elliot and Burson.
"We had some kids step up and hit some shots," Voyles said. "That's been the problem we've had all year is getting people besides Kendra to hit shots. I thought they played with the most confidence I've seen this year."
Feeding off the momentum, the start of the final quarter was electric for the Lady Cats. Stevi Burns turned a steal into points. The next bucket drew double reaction from the North Harrison boss. Within the motions of the North Harrison offense, Burson popped a triple from the top of the key to give the visitors its largest lead, 48-30.
"A couple times late in the game when we were up 13, 14 points and taking shots, I'm going, 'No,' but some went in, which is OK," Voyles said. "It wouldn't have been OK if it didn't go in. Being that person wanting to step up to shoot is what we're looking for. She was in good rhythm, so I'll give her that."
The lead was enough for the Lady Cats to hang on for the win despite a ferocious rally by the Lady Panthers. Corydon Central would outscore North Harrison 21-7 during the final 5-1/2 minutes. Aly Chambers hit two 3-pointers, while Rothrock tallied seven points in the span.
With a minute to play, Chambers' final trey returned the game to single digits, 52-45.
"It would have been nice to see that fight somewhere besides the first two minutes of the game and the last part," Uhl said. "That was what we were missing the rest of the game."
The rally didn't make it all the way to even due to the free-throw shooting of North Harrison, along with the dribbling from one end of the half court to the other by Lambert. She was able to repeatedly split the double- and triple-team efforts of Corydon Central's defenders.
"I don't know if I have anybody else I trust that much to dribble through people the way she does," Voyles said. "I've seen her do it for three years, and she's pretty good at it."
At the charity stripe, Lambert made 11 of 12 free throws while Book sank all four of her attempts. As a team, North Harrison was 19 of 25 at the line.
"We got down and stopped communicating," Uhl said. "North played well. Everyone talks about their eighth-grade class and how good they are, but someone should talk about these sophomores. They are pretty good."
Among the sophomore group, Burson finished with 11 points, five rebounds and three assists. Cammie Jones had three steals, while McAfee led the team on the glass with eight rebounds. Burns, a freshman, netted both of her shot attempts for four points. Book, a junior, had nine points.
As a team, North Harrison shot 35 percent, but it was the Lady Cats' defense that led the way, forcing 19 turnovers.
"We were focused on a few people in particular and making them do things we thought they'd be uncomfortable doing," Voyles said. "They did a great job on Chambers until the last quarter, running her off the line. They did a good job finding her until the end of the game, not allowing her to take many threes."
Chambers finished with 16 points, making three long-range shots. Mosley added eight points, while Oliver had six.
Early in the game, the host team had the right groove. Mosley and Oliver hit the first two field goals, followed by Chambers sinking a three. It gave Corydon Central a 7-0 start that eventually grew to 9-1 after a Rothrock make.
From there, however, North Harrison chipped away the rest of the first half before starting to pull away in the latter half.
"It's a matter of maturing and gaining some confidence," Voyles said. "Tonight was good for them and, hopefully, we can transfer it through the next couple of weeks."
The win was a big one in the North Harrison camp, which moved to 4-2 in Mid-Southern Conference play. The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for Corydon Central and five straight against its rival.
"It's Corydon," Voyles said. "I'm glad to see it for Kendra because she hasn't beaten Corydon since she has been in high school. It's good for her. There are family connections with this game, so it is personal in a lot of ways. It's a fun game, a fun rivalry."
In the final week of the regular season, North Harrison plays at Charlestown tonight (Wednesday) due to being postponed yesterday then will travel to Eastern (Pekin) tomorrow. Corydon Central, meanwhile, will host Floyd Central tonight then Clarksville tomorrow.
North Harrison 7 17 19 12 – 55
Corydon Central 9 10 11 21 – 51
North Harrison (10-7, 4-2 MSC) – Lambert 25, Burson 11, Book 9, Elliot 4, Smith 4, Jones 2.
Corydon Central (10-6, 4-3) – Rothrock 19, Chambers 16, Mosley 8, Oliver 6, Wilkerson 2.
3-point goals – North Harrison 4 (Lambert 2, Burson, Book); Corydon Central 6 (Roth-rock 3, Chambers 3).