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Wounded NH stuns big, bad Jeff, 69-64

Wounded NH stuns big, bad Jeff, 69-64
Wounded NH stuns big, bad Jeff, 69-64
North Harrison senior guard Kim McMillin, who stands at 5-11, was dwarfed by 6-5 sophomore Samantha Johnson (44) of Jeffersonville in Friday night's thrilling, 69-64 upset victory by the Lady Cats. (Photo by Alan Stewart)

It was a tumultuous week for North Harrison’s girls basketball team leading up to Friday night’s season opener against No. 6-ranked (Class 4A) Jeffersonville.
Last Saturday, Cameron Voyles, the son of Lady Cat head coach Missy Voyles, broke his right arm.
On Monay, after sitting out of practice during the previous week and having an MRI, leading scorer Kim McMillin was diagnosed with shin splints (instead of a stress fracture) in her right leg.
On Thursday, gritty junior guard Lindsay Shroyer disclosed that she’d have to miss several early games due to surgery.
To wrap it all up, on Thursday in practice, sophomore guard Tara Miller collided in head-to-head fashion with another player and needed more than 10 stitches to close a huge gash in her mouth (it almost required plastic surgery, her doctor said).
So, what could be better medicine than to stun the highly-touted Lady Red Devils, 69-64, on their home floor, in front of over 1,500 rabid fans?
“We’re going to paint Christmas ornaments together tomorrow and eat tacos and sing karaoke,” Voyles laughed after the win. “Seriously. That’s tomorrow’s team therapy practice. We feel we deserve a day to do nothing.”
There will no rest for the weary as North opens defense of its co-Mid-Southern Conference title with the squad that shared the honor last season – Scottsburg – on Saturday night at home at 6 p.m.
Ironically, the two with the worst injuries in Friday’s game – Miller and McMillin – are the ones who punished Jeff the most. Despite playing with a makeshift mouth guard made of gauze and tape, Miller stepped up her game to the tune of 27 points. McMillin, wearing a sleeve on her calf, came through for 26 points and seven rebounds.
Liz Geltmaker added 11 points and six steals, and Shroyer scored three points and grabbed 10 rebounds, including eight defensive.
Defensively, sophomores Rachel Cannon (two points) and Morgan Carr teamed up with Shroyer did a yeoman’s job to hold Jeff’s 6-5 sophomore, Samantha Johnson, to 12 points.
“They did a good job on Johnson,” Voyles said. “We talked about her a lot the last couple of days and just how to defend her and what to do. I thought they took a couple of good charges that weren’t called. They did just what you should do. They bodied up to her and took away her pivot foot.”
Jeff out-rebounded North Harrison by five, 35-30, but committed nine more turnovers, 31-25. The Lady Cats, who were 17-43 on field goals, won the game at the free throw line, hitting 28 of 41 attempts (Jeff was 9-15). Miller alone shot more than Jeff, hitting 14-17, including 4-6 in the final frame.
“Tara’s game has elevated,” Voyles said. “Her outside shooting has improved so much. She got her mouth busted last night, went to the ER and has 10 stitches in her lip, and still she’s out here playing. Before she even left the gym, I asked her, ‘Can you even play in stitches?’ She said, ‘I will.’ She was darn close to plastic surgery, and playing like that tonight, that’s just one tough kid.”
The two clubs swapped baskets and free throws in the first five minutes of the low-scoring game, and Jeff held a 5-3 lead at 3:27 on a free toss by Jasmine Baines.
However, North caught fire the rest of the period as McMillin, Cannon and Miller powered a 11-2 run. Miller nailed a long three with 13 ticks left to make it 14-7, then caught a one-bounce pass from Geltmaker to drain another bomb 28 seconds into the second period.
Jeff never led again. Miller and McMillin teamed up for 33 of their team’s 38 points at halftime, 38-34.
Voyles emphasized how important the early part of the second half would be.
“Right before we walked out, I said, ‘What’s the most important minutes of this half?'”
“Liz said, ‘Sixteen?’ I said, ‘No, not all of them are as important as the first three.’ If we come out here and put a nail in the coffin early, that’s going to deflate them a little bit. It would be really nice if we could come out and hit a couple of shots in the first couple of minutes.”
That’s exactly what the Lady Cats did.
McMillin buried one from downtown and finished an old-fashioned three, followed by a pair of Geltmaker trios to make it 50-36 with 5:27 showing.
North Harrison pushed the lead to 63-48 with 5:50 left in the fourth on a Shroyer bucket and then went to the stall game.
Little did the Lady Cats know that would be their last field goal of the contest.
Jeff’s Amy Austin drained back-to-back threes, Johnson scored a deuce in the paint, and Sarah Leavell dropped home simple jumpers. A couple of frees by Miller set the score at 66-62 with only 1:09 left.
Jeff brought the ball up court and attempted an interior pass, but Miller came up with a steal and passed to Geltmaker, who was fouled. She hit one of two free throws. The Lady Red Devils tried to go inside again, and McMillin came up with the swipe before passing off to Geltmaker, who dropped home two free throws.
Jeff’s Jackie Rogers hit a jumper at 11.5 to set the final score at 69-64.
The Lady Devils, who shot 26 of 52 from the floor, were led by Johnson’s 12 points, followed by 11 from all-state candidate Lauren Stewart. Rogers scored nine.
Barring any more injuries on the already snake-bit team, there are only a handful of games that could give North Harrison trouble.
Has Voyles pondered the thought of running the table?
“I’m just taking one game at a time,” said Voyles. “We’ve had a lot of adversity already thrown at our team this year. There’s still some things we’re not out of the woods on. We’ve taken a little gut check on basketball and appreciation for it in the last two weeks. We thought Kim was going to be out ’til January, and she’s okay. We’re losing one other player for medical reasons for a short time. We’re just going to play and have fun.”