Soaring Eagles down NH 55-41
Three quick treys, combined with a high-quality defensive effort throughout the night, kept the surging Lanesville boys’ basketball team on a roll in the new year, posting a 55-41 win over visiting North Harrison Friday night.
Coming off an emotional loss the week before to Class A No. 1 Orleans via a last-second shot, Lanesville tossed that memory into the shadows of last week and came out firing against the Cougars. North Harrison opened with a quick basket, but the Eagles turned in an 11-0 run, giving themselves an 11-2 advantage. Junior John Kissel started the parade with a 3-pointer, followed by a pair of long balls from Cody Hussung. Those 3-pointers were the only treys the Eagles needed for the rest of the game, but they were important to the strong start. Tom Walter topped the run with a hoop inside.
‘We got to see last weekend the kids prove to themselves how good they could be,’ Lanesville coach Mikel Miller said. ‘They played pretty decent, but still didn’t play our best ball against them (Orleans), and tonight we get off to a real fast start. Got some shots outside early and got ourselves a lot of confidence.’
The win was also coach Miller’s 100th in his career.
North Harrison coach Chris Martin said allowing the Eagles a fast start put them behind too quickly against a tough defensive team that had been playing well lately.
‘They did a nice job to find Hussung for two straight, and Kissel hit one,’ Martin said. ‘They hit those three jump shots in a row and it’s 9-2. We weren’t able to rotate back out. When you get down 9-2 to a team that plays good defensively, it becomes tough to overcome.’
The Cougars (2-11) had been playing well lately as well, picking up a win over Floyd Central the week before, followed by a narrow loss to Eastern (Pekin). As the game progressed, North Harrison was able to trade baskets with the Eagles, keeping within striking distance. After Joe Bolin swished a 3-pointer to cut the Eagles’ lead to 25-18, the Lanesville defense kicked into high gear. Following a Walter basket, two steals turned into four points on fast-breaks by Jarrett Beach and Jeffrey Hammond. With the late surge, Lanesville had a comfortable 31-18 advantage heading into halftime.
‘Defensively, I was very pleased we only gave up 41 points,’ Miller said. ‘We also did a better job of challenging their shots.’
Through the third quarter, the teams traded points throughout the eight minutes, which was frustrating for Martin and the Cougars, who couldn’t get a consistent scoring run going.
‘We kept talking the whole night that if we could make two in a row, and I will probably be saying that until two in the morning,’ Martin said. ‘We just couldn’t find anything offensively, but that is their defensive pressure. They played good defense and rotated well.’
Lanesville’s offense has picked up recently with the improved play of Kissel running the point.
‘He has had nice back-to-back games playing relaxed,’ Miller said. ‘I think in the beginning of the year, he kind of felt like because he was one of those returning players that played a lot last year, that he felt like maybe he was going to have to do too much. He has played relaxed now, which is great for the entire team.’
Kissel finished the game with a team high 13 points.
Walter also had a strong game inside, which became the Eagles’ focus after jumping out to the fast start. The senior big-man finished with a double-double, pulling down 12 rebounds and scoring 12 points. The 12 boards were a part of Lanesville’s season best 41 team rebounds. Kenton Acton had 11 boards to go with his four points, and Bryant Conder had six points and five rebounds.
‘We got back to some basics,’ Miller said of the recent swing Lanesville (5-7) has been on after starting the season 2-6. ‘Winning two road games (after Christmas break), then playing well against Orleans here. You know, had they not hit that shot, you are looking at a 4-0 start to the new year. We’re getting some kids going, but we still have some that are struggling a bit. Overall, I think we are going pretty well.’
North Harrison was paced by eight points each from Cody Johnson, Jim Bob Schuler and Bolin. In a balanced effort, nine different Cougars scored on the evening.
‘We picked up some things,’ Martin said. ‘Last week, we had three really good practices, and this week our practices have not been as solid. That is what we talked about after the game: we can’t just show up and expect things to happen; we have to work everyday to help improve anymore.’
Defensively, Martin, who is in his first head coaching position since heading the Lanesville program from 1998-2000, was fairly pleased with the performance, but still hopes the offense can continue to create opportunities.
‘North Harrison played hard all night long; they certainly didn’t give up,’ Miller said of his opponents. ‘Coach Martin is doing a nice job with them. He has some young kids that played some JV and got in the varsity and did some nice things for them. You know, he has that team going in the right direction.’
With Borden’s loss to Henryville over the weekend, Lanesville now has a shot at tying the Braves for the Southern Athletic Conference title. Lanesville will host Perry Central Saturday before returning to conference action against New Washington on Feb. 1.
North Harrison followed the Lanesville loss with another defeat, this time to the mercy of Mid-Southern Conference leader Salem 77-44. The Cougars will host West Washington on Friday then travel to Madison on Saturday.
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