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Cougars fall short of the Stars, 70-46

The North Harrison Cougars ended 2004 on a less than happy note last Tuesday night, sustaining a 70-46 whipping from the visiting Bedford-North Lawrence Stars.
It was an affair that one person referred to as ‘ragged.’
‘I suppose it was ragged,’ said North Harrison coach Rick Snodgrass. ‘Bedford is a very talented ball club and very physical. They’ve got a lot of talent in five starters back from last year. They’ve got nine of their top 10 players back. They’re one of the best teams in Southern Indiana and one of the best in the state. From that aspect, they make you play ragged sometimes.’
North started the night by turning the ball over twice in their first three possessions. Bedford took advantage of those errors, exploding for a 10-2 lead.
The Cougars regained some ground briefly, after Cory Beach scored inside. Eric Spreen countered with two deuces to push Bedford’s lead to 10, 18-8, at the end of the first quarter.
‘I’m disappointed in a lot of our attitudes,’ Snodgrass said. ‘I mean in the mental attitude of approach to the game. I’m disappointed in the fact we’re not thinking the game like we’ve taught it, being mentally prepared. That’s something (where) they should go on the court and block everything else out and start understanding.
‘A lot of it is these kids right here, they haven’t watched a lot of basketball in the past. Until we get court knowledge of the game, I guess the only way it’s going to happen is we go through roadblocks, go through ups and downs. We’re going to take some lumps.’
Bedford committed three turnovers to start the second period, but North Harrison converted just one of those into a bucket.
Ajay Beasley then swished a three for the Stars, which started a 7-0 run. North Harrison got six opportunities from the stripe and cashed in on five of those, pulling the Cougars within 10, 25-15.
Bedford struck again with an 8-2 burst for a 33-17 advantage. Josh Kidd and Beach got deuces for the Cougars, and Clayton Nix got a pair from the stripe, as North Harrison closed within 10 again, at 33-23.
Bedford finished the half with four quick points, breathing easy with a 37-23 lead at halftime.
‘I said at the start of the year, the next two years, realistically, we’re going to learn an awful lot,’ Snodgrass said. ‘I don’t want to wait the next two years. I want to do it now and I expect the kids to start learning and working to get us to that level. If we get beat, like coach (John) Wooden said, there’s a lot worse things in life than getting beat in a basketball game, as long as you’re learning. If you can walk away that night and say, ‘I did the best I could and they were simply better,’ then you progress.
‘I don’t think everybody on our team tonight did the best they could in all aspects of the game to be better. I do think some kids did better. That’s a positive.’
Beach got a deuce inside to begin the second half, but Andy Root scored seven quick points to push the Bedford lead to 44-25.
Kidd later got a deuce in the paint, then Bedford erred on its next three possessions. Troy Eveslage gave the Cougars two triples, pulling North Harrison within 14, 50-46. Bedford got two of those back before the end of the period to lead by 16.
The last quarter belonged to Bedford. The Stars used the first three minutes to go on a 9-1 burst. John Couts got a three for the Cougars, but Bedford answered with five. Nix and Chris Rawert sank a three and deuce, respectively, for North, but it wasn’t enough, as Bedford took the win.
‘At times I thought we played very good basketball,’ Snodgrass said. ‘At times I thought we made very poor decisions on the court. If anybody doesn’t realize who we lost now from last year’s team, then they don’t understand the game.
‘Until our kids start understanding the game better and working harder on every facet of the game, then we’re going to struggle against good teams. Somewhere along the lines it’s going to kick in. You don’t lose what we lost last year and all of a sudden miraculously turn into a very good ball club early. From that aspect, we’re pretty much where we expected right now.’
Beasley led the winners with 13 points and Eric Spreen and Paul Spreen finished with 11 points each. Dax Duncan, Bedford’s 6-7 center, was held to just five points for the game. The Stars committed 15 turnovers and connected on 14 of 22 free throws.
‘I think Chris Rawert is continuing to get better and better,’ he said. ‘I was excited that Zach Janes came off the bench and did a lot more than we anticipated. He did a very good job on a tentative ankle. I thought Troy Eveslage again was solid. I thought Clayton Nix came in and did a real nice job for the amount of minutes he played tonight. I think playing the junior varsity game gave him a lot of confidence.’
Eveslage and Beach led the Cougars with 10 points each. North Harrison hit 12 of 13 free throws but committed a whopping 27 turnovers.
‘I told the kids I’m going to keep pushing them and keep working as hard as I possibly can as a coach,’ Snodgrass said. ‘I’m going to get excited when they do something right and I’m going to be doing corrective criticism when they do something wrong. Until they get to that point and it kicks in, then we’ll just continue to do it the way we’re doing.’
The loss pushed the Cougar record back to 2-3.
‘I always break the season into five-game sections,’ Snodgrass said. ‘That’s what we’re going to do now. We’ve got five games in seven days starting Jan. 7. Four of them are on the road and not one of them is not against a good team: Austin, Scottsburg away, Perry Central at home, Eastern and Floyd Central on the road.
‘It’s going to be a physical and mental challenge. We’ve got a long way to go to be able to meet that challenge. From this point on, until we play Austin, we’re going to go back and fundamentally break it down and continue to work hard and get better.
‘That’s all we can do.’