|Tue, Jul 22, 2014 11:32 AM
February 19, 2014 | 01:37 PM
One thing about the group of mostly young Lady Cats that held true in the Class 3A Charlestown Sectional opener last Tuesday was never giving up regardless of what the scoreboard read.
Led by senior star Kendra Lambert, North Harrison made a valiant comeback attempt against Scottsburg. Trailing by 18 points midway through the third quarter, the Lady Cats chipped away at the Scottsburg lead but couldn't fully complete the turnaround.
Scottsburg saw North Harrison come within one possession of taking the lead with three minutes to play, but the Warriorettes were able to eliminate the Lady Cats, 60-53.
"They didn't quit," North Harrison coach Missy Voyles said. "I felt when we played them earlier in the year, we were very intimidated by them. I felt like we did a better job today matching punch for punch."
Convincingly winning the regular season meeting 72-47, the road was much more challenging late for the Warriorettes.
North Harrison's rally attempt began late in the third quarter with back-to-back buckets by Shaylah Neal to trim the Scottsburg lead to 49-37.
Starting the final quarter with a bang, Lambert buried a 3-pointer, getting the game to single digits. Although Scottsburg fired back with an Emma Waskom triple and a field goal by Samantha Beverly to show the way by 14 points.
Back came the Lady Cats with the roar of the crowd behind the upset-minded team.
Holding the Warriorettes scoreless during the next three minutes, the Lady Cats ripped off 11 straight points. Carlie Burson started the spurt with a pair of free throws followed by a spin move in the lane for a deuce.
Coming to life from the field was Lambert. She finished with a game-best 25 points, turning two steals in a row into buckets to pull the Lady Cats within six.
Nearly bringing the house down, Lambert nailed a 3-pointer off an inbounds play with 3:25 to play to cut Scottsburg's lead to 54-51.
The spurt was aided by several starters for the Warriorettes bothered by foul trouble.
During the final 3-1/2 minutes, the Lady Cats struggled to score additional points despite several chances in the paint and at the charity stripe. Neal accounted for North Harrison's final field goal that came with 32 seconds left to bring the Lady Cats within four. At the line, neither team was especially stellar down the stretch, but the Warriorettes were good enough. They made four of seven attempts in the final 2:30, while North Harrison missed all four tries.
"A missed rebound here or there or free throw or layup, we had lots of opportunities in the final four minutes of the game to pull on top," Voyles said.
On paper, it was a battle between the experience of four senior veteran starters for Scottsburg against the kittens of four sophomores around Lambert. A key to the game for North Harrison to have success, according to Voyles, was to match the physical play of its opponent.
"They are a physical team, and we tried to play physical with them even though we are not nearly as physically built stature-wise," she said. "We did try to not back down. I was proud of them for that."
Starts of games haven't been a forte of the Lady Cats all year. There was an exception this postseason.
Out of the gate, it was back and forth with the Warriorettes. Attacking the lane, Lambert reached the foul line to make six free throws in the first quarter that ended with Scottsburg leading, 16-14.
"Today might have been the first time I felt like we started a game fairly well," Voyles said. "We have not started one game well all year. I felt they were focused at the beginning of the game."
Scottsburg took advantage of a spell of North Harrison turnovers in the second quarter to grow a 33-21 halftime edge. The Warriorettes closed the half on a 13-3 run.
"They are young, and we're getting them to be focused and understanding intensity," Voyles said of the young team. "They've been working on that all year and finally did it. Babies are growing; they are toddlers now."
Lambert led the Lady Cats with 25 points followed by sophomores Burson with nine points and Neal with eight. Fellow sophomore Cammie Jones had five points.
"We made a lot of growth," Voyles said. "We have overcome a ton of injuries this year."
In the sectional, Jill Book and Stevi Burns played through aches and pains of injuries. Voyles said that, for the first time this season, she had all 12 varsity players dress and well enough to see action.
"Two of them were injured and hobbling, but they went out there anyway and gave it all they had," Voyles said.
Kelsey Smith paced the Warriorettes in scoring with 20 points while Elliot had 13.
North Harrison graduates two: Regan Comer and Lambert. Despite the injuries to various players throughout the year, Voyles saw positives in many players gaining varsity minutes.
"In some ways, it probably helped us," she said. "We had a different group of kids playing every night because no one was healthy at the same time. In the end, you end up with nine or 10 that can play for you."
Lambert will undoubtedly be a big loss after tallying more than 1,000 career points as a four-year contributor.
"It might take three people to replace her," Voyles said. "She handles the ball, scores the point, leading steals. There's a lot to pick up, and we're not going to fill those shoes in one year with one player. It's going to take two or three people stepping up."
Scottsburg 16 17 16 11 – 60
North Harrison 14 7 16 16 – 53
Scottsburg (15-5) – Smith 20, Elliot 13, Waskom 8, Beverly 8, Romero 7, Means 4.
North Harrison (11-10) – Lambert 25, Burson 9, Neal 8, Jones 5, Book 3, Burns 3.
3-point goals – Scottsburg 2 (Waskom 2); North Harrison 3 (Lambert 3).