Few teams have enjoyed the success that New Albany’s girls basketball club has had the past few years. Highlighted by a state championship in 1999 and sprinkled with a couple of sectional titles, the Lady Bulldogs have proven themselves to be a power statewide year in and year out.
With one starter, senior Jessica Huggins, remaining from that state title team and another future star in 6-3 freshman Stephanie Lynch, New Albany is once again expected to be a force in the south.
The challenge for North Harrison last Thursday night was to figure out a way to cage the Lady Bulldogs. No one would have expected the mission to be accomplished so easily.
The Lady Cats out-rebounded the hosts 43-29 and thoroughly dominated the game in virtually every aspect to the tune of a 22-point thumping, 64-42.
It’s the first time North Harrison had defeated New Albany, and it was the worst loss for a New Albany team on its home floor since 1993, when two teams posted 34-point wins: Bedford-North Lawrence won in December of that year, 65-43, and Floyd Central did it 91-57 in January.
For North coach Missy Voyles, it was a homecoming of sorts — she was an assistant under former New Albany head coach Angie Hinton. The experience — and knowledge of some of the current players’ abilities — helped lay the groundwork for the huge win.
“I knew most of these girls when they were little. I know their weaknesses and their strengths. I know how to read them. It helped that I coached them when they were little kids,” Voyles said. “I’m not tooting my own horn, but I just know what makes these kids tick.”
She also knew how to make her own ball club tick offensively: three Lady Cats players scored in double figures, led by junior Liz Geltmaker’s 22 points. Fellow junior guard Kim McMillin had 12 in the first half and finished with 16, and freshman Tara Miller tossed in 11. Sophomore guard Lindsay Shroyer scored six of her eight points in the first quarter, where the visitors took a 17-5 lead and out-rebounded New Albany, 19-6.
“I felt like going in that the game was going to come down to how well we rebounded and how well some of our other players stepped up,” Voyles said.
“Lindsay Shroyer knocked down a couple of shots early, and I think that got New Albany off balance a little bit. I told them before the game that we can’t be a three-man team. Rebounding, defense, everything. We did a really good job.”
North Harrison doesn’t get much chance to celebrate because it travels to Elizabeth tonight (Wednesday) for a matchup against a scrappy South Central (7-2) team and hosts undefeated Floyd Central (6-0) one night later in Ramsey.
“I think this is the first year that I feel like I match up with Floyd Central,” Voyles said. “They only have one big girl as opposed to past seasons. The only thing that really scares me is that any one of several players could step up and have a big night against us.”
McMillin scored the first six points for the Lady Cats (5-2) in the second quarter, but New Albany’s three-point shooting kept the team close to the half, 34-22. Senior Jessica Huggins (the only remaining starter from the state championship team) buried two threes in the second quarter and finished with eight points.
After the halftime break, North Harrison kept the engine churning as Geltmaker buried a three and Andrea Langemaat scored inside to go up 39-22.
The Lady Cats’ defense kept New Albany (5-1) from scoring until the 3:55 mark when Candace Yates hit a bucket. Geltmaker sandwiched three-bombs around a McMillin basket; however, New Albany countered with an old fashioned three and field goal from Regina Marshall and a jumper by Amanda Miller. The small run brought the hosts to 47-31. Langemaat killed New Albany’s run with a basket over Lynch, and Geltmaker connected on her fourth three of the quarter to give the Lady Cats a 52-31 lead after three quarters.
North’s Rachel Cannon hit a free throw, Geltmaker had two baskets, and Miller swooshed two free ones to extend the advantage to the team’s largest margin of the game, 59-35, with 3:31 left.
Lynch had seven points in the final minutes, but it wasn’t enough as North pulled off the mild upset.
North was 24 of 56 from the field and six of 16 on threes; New Albany was 17 of 53 from the floor (5 of 18 on triples). The hosts shot just eight free throws, hitting three, and the Lady Cats hit 10 of 15 attempts from the charity stripe.
“The key, obviously, was their defense. We didn’t read it well. And, normally, we get a lot of offensive rebounds. Tonight, they just out-physicalled us,” first-year New Albany coach Dave Rarick said. “We knew those three players (Geltmaker, McMillin, Miller) were going to be good. We tried to play them man-to-man, but we were getting beat off the dribble. So we had to go to the zone, and that’s when the threes started raining down.”
Voyles said hitting the boards was going to make or break her ball club.
“The whole key to the ball game was rebounding. I think we were up 12 at the half, and I was just hoping to break even with them on the boards, to be honest,” North’s coach said.
“I know New Albany is a lot better than what they showed tonight, but I really felt like my girls had a shot as long as they played hard.”
The Lady Bulldogs had eight players score but none reached double digits. They were led by Huggins and Marshall with 8 apiece.
n North Harrison got back on the winning track after a loss to Scottsburg by whipping host Paoli Thursday night, 53-24.
Kim McMillin led the Lady Cats’ charge with 14 points, Liz Geltmaker had 11, and Tara Miller 10 in the winning cause. Lindsay Shroyer had seven points, Andrea Langemaat added eight, Cassie Milburn scored two, and Amanda Hecker added one for North.
After falling behind 9-8 after the first quarter, the Lady Cats outscored the hosts 20-6 in the second set and 12-4 in the third to coast to the win.
Paoli (0-6) was led in scoring by sophomore Autumn Buchanan, who carded nine points.