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NH girls cap undefeated season

Undeniably undefeated.
North Harrison’s girls basketball team did the unthinkable Thursday night in Ramsey, completing an immaculate season of hoops.
A 73-24 snoozer over conference newcomer Eastern was the final hurdle between North Harrison and immortality: The No. 3-ranked (Class 3A) Lady Cats won their first outright Mid-Southern Conference title (9-0) in addition to posting the 20-0 mark and firmly established themselves as the favorite heading into last night’s opening round defense of their 3A sectional crown.
The win was North’s 31st consecutive in regular season play. The last loss came on Dec. 8, 2002 against Floyd Central, and their last regular-season loss to a 3A team came at Scottsburg on Nov. 17, 2002.
The Blue and White Brigade was one of eight girls teams across the state to finish the regular season undefeated. The others were Gibson Southern (which was the last team to beat North Harrison, at the Jasper 3A Regional), Angola (3A), Alexandria (3A), Kokomo (4A), North Putnam (2A), North Vermillion (1A) and East Chicago Central (4A).
The start of Thursday’s affair made some wonder if the Lady Cats playing their fifth game in a week had begun to take its toll: the two clubs battled to a 4-4 tie in the first period, thanks to a deliberate offense by the Lady Musketeers (8-11, 1-8) and ice-cold shooting by the hosts.
At the time, North was chucking a paltry 2-12 from the floor and was being out-rebounded, 12-5.
“We played five games in eight days, counting Sunday, and we didn’t practice on Wednesday,” Lady Cat coach Missy Voyles said. “Maybe that was a bad move by not having practice Wednesday. We were extremely worn out after a long night at Perry Central. They gained focus midway through the second period. They just finally got into a rhythm and picked it up on defense.”
For most of the second frame, the same story held true. North had countless wide-open looks that rattled in and out of the basket while Eastern was somehow able to penetrate North’s defense to score.
After the Lady Musketeers took a 9-6 lead on the ninth point by Amber Hampton, Lady Cat senior guard Liz Geltmaker hit the first of her five threes to tie it. Beth Bruner helped take the lead with a fadeaway jumper inside.
Eastern’s Ashlie Smith tacked on a deuce to tie the game at 11 with 1:32 left in the period, giving the Lady Musketeers the thought of pulling off the upset of the new year. The old axiom is “Let a sleeping dog lie,” but it might be wise to leave the felines alone, too.
Lady Cat senior Kim McMillin started an eight-point flurry with a bucket at 1:15. Over the next 75 ticks of the clock, Eastern was unable to get the ball across half-court, thanks to North’s defense. Geltmaker, McMillin and junior Lindsay Shroyer all scored to put the Lady Cats up, 19-11, at the half.
Coach Voyles’ halftime speech in the locker room was a good, old- fashioned dose of reality: “You came into this game wanting to score 100 points and didn’t think Eastern would actually want to beat you. They surprised you, didn’t they?”
Out of the break, North extinguished Eastern’s hopes by continuing its blitz. The Lady Cats scored 20 straight points and forced 11 turnovers in 12 Eastern possessions. By the time Mandy Jackson forced one in for the visitors, they trailed 41-13.
The rest of the game was academic.
Geltmaker ran wild on Eastern with 23 points and a slew of steals. McMillin notched 16, and Tara Miller scored 12 with several steals and rebounds. Filling out the scoring line for the Lady Cats were Lindsay Shroyer with seven, Stefany Jaso six, Beth Bruner four, Rachel Cannon three with several rebounds, and Abby Wells hit a soft jumper for her only two points of the game.
Since the holiday break, Geltmaker has averaged 17.4 points over her final 10 games. That’s her style, Voyles said.
“I don’t want to jinx her,” North’s coach joked. “Liz has always been a great second half of the year player. She is playing and shooting with confidence. She is being the way you would want a four-year starter and senior to play.”
Eastern was paced by Hampton’s 13 points and three from Meggen Hazelip.
North Harrison shot 31 of 56 from the floor, including 7-20 on threes. Eastern got off only 23 shots (two in the third period) and hit nine. The Lady Musketeers did win the rebounding battle, 28-24, however, thanks to their 12-5 first-quarter effort. North forced 31 turnovers and gave up just nine possessions, including one in each of the second-half quarters.
“Ball handling and make the most of each possession is very important. You have to be doing it right and doing it well in the tournament, especially in a sectional as tough as ours,” Voyles said.