|Fri, Jul 11, 2014 04:25 AM
February 05, 2014 | 12:07 PM
Coming into the final stretch of the boys' basketball season, the North Harrison team showed some of its growth Friday night.
Pleasing the homecoming crowd, the Cougars overcame a sluggish first quarter offensively to lean on the defensive end against visiting West Washington. Continuing to hone in on defensive improvements, the Cougars came away with a 54-42 victory.
"The good thing is, we were able to defend," North Harrison coach Greg Walters said. "Early in the season, when we had starts like that offensively, we were down 12 to 15 points and had to dig ourselves out of a hole. Today, because we played defense, we looked at the scoreboard and it was 2-2."
North Harrison scored the first bucket of the game through Joseph Hinton, then, after that, the Cougars went cold. Rebounding, on both the defensive and offensive ends, in the first quarter, along with defense, held the Senators in check.
Through the first six minutes of the game, the score was tied at 2. West Washington would score on consecutive trips down the court with Lane Hoover slipping by defenders on back-door cuts for lay-ins.
In the closing minute, North Harrison retook the lead when Cameron Mink scored and Alex Flock nailed a triple. Flock's shot went down when Cory Smith picked up an offensive rebound.
"(West Washington) made it their goal to take Cory out of the game as a scorer," Walters said. "They did a real good job, so other guys had to step up. Early the shots didn't go, but later in the game we were able to knock some down."
Smith would find his groove in the second half, scoring 11 of his 14 points once the Senators switched defenses.
"They went in a box-and-one with Cory," Walters said. "Whenever Cory caught the ball, they would trap him. It took us out of our offense for a bit before we could get into a flow. Early we left open kids that are good shooters and they just didn't fall."
Defense led to offense for the Cougars in the second quarter. Hinton turned a pair of steals into points, while Flock closed the frame swiping a Senators' pass for a bucket. Going to work on the glass also paid off with Gage Arnold and Austin Nolot converting put-backs.
North Harrison won the rebounding war, 25-15.
"We played solid defense, but, as a coach, we worked on back screens all week in practice and we gave up several at different times," Walters said. "There is a lot of room for improvement."
North Harrison would lead 23-18 at the half.
Refusing to go away, West Washington traded field goals with the Cougars through much of the third quarter. Cody Mauldin scored a basket late to cut North Harrison's lead to 31-29.
Firing back, the Cougars closed with a 6-2 run, led by four points from Chandler Jenkins.
West Washington scored with Hoover underneath to begin the final quarter to get within four points. Benefiting from an aggressive closeout, Smith was fouled in front of the Cougar Crazies student section while putting up a trey attempt. The senior would net all three freebies.
North Harrison held at least a five-point lead the rest of the way. The margin grew to double digits when Smith netted two additional free throws with less than a minute to play to help close out the victory.
"Early on, during timeouts, we talked that this was going to be one of those ugly games," Walters said. "Holding those guys to 42 points was pretty big for us defensively."
The win was the fifth in a row for North Harrison, which placed four players in double-figure scoring. Smith led the way with 14, while Hinton, Nolot and Jenkins had 10 points each. Flock chipped in five points.
Part of the big night on the boards, Nolot had seven rebounds and four assists. Smith and Jenkins had six rebounds each.
Hoover led West Washington with 15 points, while Lane Trueblood scored 14.
Up next, the Cougars will face rival Crawford County on Friday night. The Wolfpack have won five straight in the series, which will be hosted by North Harrison this year.
West Washington 6 12 13 11 – 42
North Harrison 7 16 14 17 – 54
West Washington (3-9) – Hoover 15, Trueblood 14, Green 8, Mauldin 2, Benskin 2, Bolton 1.
North Harrison (7-6) – Smith 14, Hinton 10, Nolot 10, Jenkins 10, Flock 5, Mink 3, Arnold 2.
3-point goals – West Washington 3 (Trueblood 2, Green); North Harrison 2 (Smith, Flock).