Lady Cat locomotive rolls through sectional
The runaway locomotive known as the North Harrison girls basketball team came into last week’s Class 3A Corydon Central Sectional riding a 11-game winning streak and on a crash course to the championship final.
The Lady Cats never slowed in the first two blowouts against Silver Creek and Madison, but they had to fight through a heated affair with cross-county rival Corydon for a ninth sectional title.
Mission accomplished: 54-47.
The No. 13-ranked Lady Cats (20-3) have apparently found a home-away-from-home at Corydon, where they’ve won eight of their championships. Their last title came in 1999 at Silver Creek; this was the fourth-consecutive championship final appearance for the team.
North Harrison travels to Jasper Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m. to face a strong 21-4 Gibson Southern squad, ranked 11th in Class 3A.
Against Corydon, Lady Cat junior guard and leading scorer Kim McMillin came through with 22 points on 4-4 shooting at the foul stripe. She also had two threes, four steals, three rebounds, and a couple of assists.
Freshman guard Tara Miller had a huge game with 14 points, nine assists, six rebounds, four steals and two blocks, while junior gunner/pickpocket Liz Geltmaker came through with eight points, two threes, three steals, and a couple of assists. Lindsay Shroyer, a scrappy, Charles Barkley-esque 5-5 guard, dominated the boards for 12 rebounds and eight points.
“Lindsay is just a warrior. I don’t know how else to describe her,” North Harrison coach Missy Voyles said. “In a physical ball game, the only person I would not be concerned about is Lindsay. If you are going to let her play, she’s going to get boards.
“The officials let the teams play, and that’s the kind of game she likes to play. If they call the game tight, she kind of struggles because she’ll pick up some fouls and get frustrated. This was a Lindsay type of ball game.”
North’s only senior, Andrea Langemaat, came through with two points and three rebounds in limited action due to foul trouble. Her freshman backup, Rachel Cannon, helped out with five rebounds.
McMillin, Geltmaker and Miller were North’s representatives on the all-sectional team.
“I think that’s the most physical ball game we’ve had to play in a very long time,” Voyles said. “I was a little worried coming into this ball game because we’ve not had a close ball game in a long time, and I thought this might be a close one. The closest we’d had was Corydon earlier by 12, and we took control of that one early. I was worried coming in, if they got close, how would we handle it.”
How close was it? Corydon and North swapped the lead 16 times and were tied on six occasions. The last tie came at 5:42 when Corydon senior Liz Marshall had a bucket inside to make it 43-43. McMillin hit two free throws 30 seconds later and Geltmaker canned a three to give her team a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
“We knew adrenaline was going to be really important,” McMillin said. “The first quarter, especially, we knew it was going to be a close game on pure adrenaline, so we weren’t really nervous when everybody came out and they were playing with us the first couple of quarters. We knew we had to keep calm in the second half.”
Corydon (15-7) threatened with 11 seconds left after Julie Hoehn came up with a steal and Colleen Merk popped a triple to cut it to a two-possession game; however, the cool-handed Miller swished two frees to set the final score.
“Tara did a real good job as a freshman, coming out here and playing without nerves at all,” McMillin said. “She just took control of the game and hit two shots when we needed them. She hit two good free throws at the end, so she played really well.
“Lindsay rebounded really well. We knew it was going to be a really physical ball game, and we just had to take care of the ball.”
Between Marshall’s basket and Merk’s three with 11 seconds left, North Harrison’s defense held Corydon without a field goal for 5:31.
The Lady Panthers, who had won six straight games coming into the final after a 9-6 start to the season, met the Lady Cats at an inopportune time.
“They all handle the ball real well,” said Corydon coach Michael Uhl. “They start four guards, and, really, I think Andrea Langemaat is pretty much a guard, too. You’ve got to give them credit. I thought we played real well.
“We didn’t shoot the ball real well, but you’ve got to give credit to their defense on that. I thought we bottled up their scorers a little bit. Kim McMillin had 22, but it was a quiet 22. Miller got those buckets there at the end of the first half that really hurt us.
“She scored, and we scored, she’d score, we’d score. We never gave up too big of lead. We never gave up. It just came down to the end there where we didn’t execute one time and they did, and then they went to the four-corners. Then the game was over. They put the game away there.”
The Lady Cats won the rebounding war, 31-28, but were forced into more turnovers, 12-9. They made up for it by shooting 21 of 47 from the field and a nearly-perfect mark of 8-9 on free throws. Corydon was 20 of 52 shooting, including a 9-24 mark in the second half.
Corydon opened the game with a 3-0 lead on an old-fashioned three by freshman Dana Beaven, but North rallied to a 14-12 lead at the first stop on a three by McMillin, a steal and lay-in and three by Geltmaker and two field goals by Shroyer.
Heather Kintner knocked three of her nine points from long range to start the second period, and Merk followed with two of her team-high 17 to give Corydon its biggest lead of the game, 17-14. Langemaat tossed in two and McMillin scored a deuce as well to recapture the lead, 18-17.
In a scrap for the ball with Shroyer, Corydon’s Sunny Hipple went down hard on her elbow. The senior starter was already slowed by a broken toe, which she’s played on all season, so another injury wasn’t what Uhl was looking forward to.
“I thought it was her knee the way she was on the ground,” he said. “She’s got a big goose egg there, but she’s a tough kid. I never doubted her coming back.”
The Lady Panthers seemed to rally around their fallen teammate and quickly posted a 4-0 run. The rest of the half was a basket-trading affair as Miller scored on back-to-back drives down the middle of the lane to take a 26-25 lead into the intermission.
The field-goal swapping continued in the third period, however, McMillin hit a three and Miller hit a jumper to push the advantage to 39-35 heading into the final quarter. Miller hit another basket to start the fourth, but the Lady Panthers scrapped back thanks to Beaven and Kintner, who produced a 6-0 spurt to tie it at 41-all. Corydon couldn’t quite hold off North in the end, however, as they fell, 54-47.
Merk paced Corydon with 17 points and two rebounds while Kintner and Beaven both had nine points. Beaven also pulled down seven boards. Sarah Esarey and Marshall both scored five, and Esarey had five rebounds. Hipple finished with two points and three rebounds.
Uhl said the loss of his six seniors — Hipple, Marshall, Kintner, Mindy Cash, Valerie Feller and Heather Timberlake — would be tough, but there’s a strong core of junior varsity players, as well as some talented junior high girls coming into the system.
“You won’t find six nicer girls,” Uhl said. “Sometimes being nice isn’t the best thing to be on the basketball floor, but I’d rather have them just like they are and wouldn’t change them for anything in the world.
“Our JV team went 17-3. We’re graduating six, but we’re going to get a lot of work done this summer. We’ve got to make sure we get some stuff done this summer, and we’ll be back.”
NH 68, Madison 45
The Lady Cats played a nearly perfect second quarter against Madison and used the period to springboard into their fourth-straight final on Friday night, 68-45.
North’s Kim McMillin led all scorers with 29 and Liz Geltmaker pitched in 14 for the game. Sophomore Lindsay Shroyer had foul problems in the second half and finished with 10 points and six rebounds while freshman Tara Miller continued to amaze with nine points, nine assists, five rebounds and four steals.
After building an 18-13 cushion in the first period, the Lady Cats outscored Madison, 26-6, to put the game away.
During the eight-minute stretch, North was 11-18 from the floor, had five steals with lay-ins and held the Lady Cubs to just one field goal, coming at the 3:45 mark on a bucket by sophomore Brittany Myers.
North relaxed a bit after building a 35-point lead in the second half to allow Madison to cut into the advantage, but the Lady Cubs never got closer than 20 points.
Madison was 12-47 from the floor as Myers paced the club with 16 points.
CC 69, Scottsburg 57
Corydon Central didn’t fare too well against Scottsburg back on Nov. 29. In that matchup the Lady Panthers were slapped with a 52-36 loss. Of course, that was before Corydon’s offense finally got rolling.
In Friday night’s semifinal game of the Class 3A Sectional, Corydon senior Sunny Hipple scored 14 and juniors Colleen Merk and Sarah Esarey lit the scoreboard for 18 and 15, respectively as the Lady Panthers turned the tide against the Warriorettes, 69-57.
The two clubs played to a tie at the end of the first and second quarters, with Corydon holding a three-point edge, 43-40, at the third-quarter break.
The Lady Panthers, which were 22 of 50 from the field, hit 12 of 16 tries from the foul stripe in the final eight minutes to capture the win.
Ginna Napier paced the Warriorettes (12-9) with 15 points and freshman Trisha Bennett finished with 13.