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Panthers win cat fight No. 3

Panthers win cat fight No. 3
Panthers win cat fight No. 3
North Harrison's Joe Bolin has the ball knock away from his hands as he looked for a shot against Corydon Central's Adam Ward. (Photo by Wade Bell)

In true county-rival form, both on the court and the sidelines, the Corydon Central Panthers won the most important cat fight of the season over North Harrison in the first round of the boys’ Class 3A North Harrison Sectional last Wednesday night. It was a game where neither team shot the ball well from the field, but where the Panthers got more chances at the free-throw line.
‘North Harrison competed and fought back two or three times as well,’ said Corydon coach Jamie Kolkmeier. ‘It seemed like on two different occasions we had a chance to put it away in the second half and didn’t get it done. That’s them not giving up.’
‘Sectional play is usually the team that plays the best defense,’ Cougar coach Chris Martin said. ‘Corydon’s defense tonight was fantastic. They didn’t let us get anything going to the bucket. They kept us on the perimeter all night. The team that does that usually wins the ball game and they did.’
The first quarter was like two sumo wrestlers pushing each other back and forth, neither team able to gain any ground on the other. Garett Ross put in a 3-point play for a 6-4 Corydon lead. Then Brandon Dunaway upped the advantage to four with two free throws. North Harrison missed its next two shots until Jim Bob Schuler scored on a put-back to close the gap to six.
The second eight minutes resembled the New York Stock Exchange with trading being the activity throughout the quarter. Joe Bolin swished two free throws then a deuce to put the Cougars in front with 2:25 to go. Corydon used two free throws to tie at 14-all. David Geswein got two singles, but Dunaway also found two singles, leaving the game tied at 16-16 at the break.
Shooting was a problem for both teams, with Corydon hitting just 3-of-18 field goals and North Harrison going 6-of-18 shooting.
‘I thought we rushed everything,’ Kolkmeier said. ‘We didn’t move the ball side to side very much at all. It would be easy to guard us, especially the first half. All you had to do was guard one side then rebound it because the shot was going to go up after the ball was on that side.’
Dylan Harl drilled a 3-pointer early in the third, giving Corydon a 21-18 lead. T.J. Sanders and Jordan Byrne took advantage of two failed conversions by the Panthers, giving the Cougars a 22-21 lead. The Panthers answered with a 9-0 run to lead 30-22. North Harrison made up a bit of ground in the last minute of the period, with Schuler and Dylan Janes getting baskets to pull the Cougars back within six with eight minutes left.
‘We took the lead at 22-21 and had a little momentum, and they went on an 8-0 run to make it 29-22,’ Martin said. ‘We came back and cut it to one. Tonight was one of those nights where if we made two in a row, we couldn’t make three in a row. We struggled offensively all night long.’
Sanders pulled North Harrison back within three early in the fourth. Janes followed with another deuce and Corydon’s lead suddenly shrunk to one, 32-31. After trading baskets, Harl sank a Corydon trey and Calvin Saulman followed with a 3-point play. The Panther lead suddenly stretched to seven, 40-33. The Cougars got no closer than seven for the remainder of the game and saw their season come to an end in a 52-42 loss.
‘Sectionals are always momentum shifts,’ said Martin. ‘They came out of the time-out and Harl caught the ball out on the wing and we left him and he hit a 3. Instead of being down one, now you’re down four. If you give up a free throw or a 2-pointer it’s still a one-possession game. When you come from down four, now it’s a two-possession game, there’s a lot of time left, now a bad possession and you go up six. It takes it away from what you’re able to do. When you leave a shooter, the shooter’s supposed to make it. Dylan made it, so you’ve got to give him credit on that one.’
‘I thought we competed,’ Kolkmeier said. ‘The second half we came out defensively. Adam Ward gave us a nice lift there at the start of the third quarter. Garett Ross gave us a nice lift there in the fourth quarter. Obviously, I would like us to do a few things better but sometimes the other team has a lot to do with that, too.’
The Cougars (5-17) finished hitting just 16-of-44 field goal attempts (36 percent) and 9-of-14 free throws. North Harrison had 13 turnovers in its last game of the season. Two players off the bench that helped keep the Cougars in the game were freshman Dylan Janes (four points) and junior Maverick Becht (seven points).
‘Those are two kids that know how to score,’ Martin said. ‘They’re not tremendous scorers but they know how to find the seam. They know how to get to the bucket. They run cuts when they’re asked to run cuts and they get themselves into position to score. Both of them got layups at one point in time because they were just around the basket. We found them and they made a bucket. When you’ve got kids that will look to score, you’re going to find a place to play them. That’s why we gave them some extended minutes in the fourth.’
Dunaway led the Panthers (8-14) with 15 points, and Saulman hit for 14 on the night. Ross added 10 for Corydon who hit 13-of-39 field goals (33 percent) but were 24 of 32 on free throws. The Panthers also had 13 turnovers.
‘We were 2-for-10 on threes and they were 1-of-16,’ said Kolkmeier. ‘That’s about as bad of a 3-point shooting game as you’re going to find.’
‘It wasn’t a pretty game if you like shooting,’ he said. ‘I think both teams did a pretty good job contesting shots and staying in front of people. You make sure you stay on your man and stay over the top of him. We’ve tried to get back to that.’
Martin said his players have come along way since the beginning of the season.
‘We feel good but we also feel like we let some get away, like the Paoli game on a last-second shot,’ said the Cougar coach. ‘We can be excited about some things but, in reality, we have to look at ourselves as a team. How do we improve from where we were this year?’
North Harrison graduates five senior players.
‘Our seniors are the base of this program,’ Martin said. ‘What they’ve done this year is lay the foundation. They’ve given us the opportunity to play some kids on the JV that maybe some years you would bring up. All the seniors, it’s going to be a big void. You’ve got to replace Jim Bob on the post. You’ve got to replace Cody (Johnson) handling the ball, David Geswein’s smarts, Jordan (Byrne)’s athleticism, and Marcello (Guidetti), our exchange student, new with us this year, just a great young man to be around. There will be holes, but we’ll play with the kids that have learned this year and they’ll step into the those roles and play better.’
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