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Cougars de-horn Rams with big 1st

March 05, 2014 | 01:08 PM

The North Harrison boys' basketball team put the skids on a five-game losing streak last Tuesday when the Cougars held off visiting Paoli in their final home game on Senior Night. The Rams had a big, fourth-quarter run, but North Harrison fought off the rally for a 69-56 win.

North Harrison senior Austin Nolot runs for a lay-in after picking the pocket of Paoli's Tanner Wroblewski late in the first quarter. Photo by Wade Bell (click for larger version)
"It's always good to get a win anytime," Cougars coach Greg Walters said. "For our guys, we've been fighting and scratching to get one in the last month, and to win one handily against a really good team like Paoli is a good win for us."

The Cougars got off to a good start, hitting seven of their 12 field-goal attempts in the first quarter, while the Rams struggled somewhat, hitting four of 13. North Harrison jumped to a 10-2 lead before Paoli rallied to close to within four, 13-9.

Austin Nolot canned a three then converted on a Paoli turnover for an 18-9 lead by the Cougars. Evan Jones swished a three for the Rams, and North Harrison held an 18-12 lead after one quarter.

Paoli not only didn't gain any ground on the Cougars early in the second period, but lost more when Cory Smith hit a deuce and two singles to put North Harrison's advantage in double-digits, 29-16.

Smith hit a North Harrison three to put the Cougars up, 34-19. Ben Bosley got two of those back for the Rams, but the Cougars went to the locker room up 34-21 at halftime.

While it may not have shown up that much on the scoreboard, Cougar senior Cameron Mink was a big part of North Harrison's first half, hitting the boards and slowing down Paoli's inside players.

"When the game gets a little hectic, he does a great job of making a great pass and a great play," Walters said of Mink. "(It's just) putting together a whole game. We've had some really good teams on the ropes and then weren't able to pull them out."

North Harrison put the hammer down on the Rams in the third quarter, hitting five of its first six shots to take a 44-27 lead after a deuce by Nolot. The Rams connected on just two of 13 field-goal attempts in the frame, while North Harrison hit seven of 11. By the end of the period, the Cougars saw their lead balloon to 53-33.

North Harrison, however, was hit by an arctic blast in the fourth quarter, as the Cougars made just two of eight attempts from the field. Tanner Wroblewski and Garrett Strange canned back-to-back three-pointers, and Skyler Stroud added a free throw to pull Paoli to within 55-42.

Stroud and Bosley later put in free throws to close the Rams' deficit to 10, 56-46. Paoli would get no closer, however, as the Cougars held their double-digit advantage through the end of the game for the 69-56 win.

Walters said the game came down to two things in the end.

"Just playing defense and trying to come up with a rebound," he said. "In that scenario, I can remember Cory Smith got a big rebound; Dylan Knopp got a big rebound. We were able to put the game away. They're a big and strong and physical team, and one thing they do is rebound really well, so we just wanted to hang tight with them on the boards."

"Tonight, they got to trapping us," Walters said, "and a few things went their way and not our way. The kids continued to fight through it, and we were able to get a big win."

Nolot led the Cougars with 17 points, and Smith followed with 16. Joseph Hinton and Chandler Jenkins each finished with 10 points for the Cougars, who hit 21 of 41 field-goal attempts (51 percent) and 22 of 26 free throws. The Cougars had 17 turnovers.

"He (Nolot) had a great game," Walters said. "He had 17 points. He had a big night on Senior Night, and I'm real proud of his effort."

Wroblewski led the Rams with 13 points, and Dathan Chastain finished with 12. Stroud added 10 points for the Rams, who hit just 12 of 45 from the field (27 percent) but 27 of 36 from the charity stripe. Paoli had 11 turnovers.

"We were just able to beat the press, and, once we got to talk about it a few times, everybody was up and noticed the backside guy was open for layups," Walters said. "We just worked it around and got a couple of layups and pushed the lead back out."

"All the games are important," he said. "I want to thank my coaching staff. They put a lot of hard work and effort in and the kids put a lot of hard work in, and you just like to see it pay off."

Paoli 12 9 12 23 – 56

North Harrison 18 16 19 16 – 69

Paoli – Wroblewski 13, Strange 5, Stewart 2, Jones 3, Kameda 2, Stroud 10, Bosley 9, Chastain 12.

North Harrison – Hinton 10, Smith 16, Nolot 17, Flock 5, Knopp 7, Jenkins 10, Mink 4.

3-point goals – Paoli 3 (Wroblewski, Strange, Jones); North Harrison 5 (Smith 3, Nolot, Knopp).

Twitter: @TheManiacHiker

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