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Cougars maul Rebels in opener

Cougars maul Rebels in opener
Cougars maul Rebels in opener
North HarrisonÂ’s Lincoln Jones uses his size against South CentralÂ’s Ryan Wemes in the third quarter in the CougarsÂ’ 67-51 win. Photo by Wade Bell (click for larger version)

North Harrison got off to a roaring start to the boys’ basketball season last Tuesday night with a dominating win over visiting South Central. The Cougars lit up the nets early while the Rebels hit an iceberg. North Harrison cruised to a 67-51 victory.
‘We had a lot of guys who have no varsity experience,’ North Harrison coach Greg Walters said. ‘We started two people who had no varsity experience. They stepped up and played well. They have a lot of things to learn and, hopefully, they learned those tonight.’
‘We thought we were mentally ready, and we came out, and I think it was just the inexperience,’ said Levi Carmichael, who was making his debut as South Central coach. ‘We have a lot of new kids who have moved up and are getting their first varsity time.’
The first quarter was simple: North Harrison was finding the basket, and South Central was not. The Cougars hit 6 of 10 field-goal attempts in the first eight minutes. The Rebels, however, were ice cold, misfiring on 11 of 12 attempts at the net. South Central missed from inside, outside and at the free-throw line. The Rebels finally got a deuce-and-one from Nick Bennett with less than a minute to go as the Cougars took a 15-3 lead after one quarter.
‘It surprised us in the stats,’ Carmichael said. ‘I think that first quarter our physicality just took over and, mentally, we weren’t focused there in the first quarter and had to fight our way back all night.’
The two teams shot equally well in the second period, but fouls began to be a problem for the Cougars as John Martin and Dakota Bosler each were called for their third foul two minutes into the quarter. A minute later, Lincoln Jones drew his third. By halftime, North Harrison had gained no ground and maintained its 12-point lead, 32-20.
‘We started out the way we wanted to defend and played good defense,’ Walters said. ‘Then, we got in a little trouble with our hands and got in foul trouble. That kind of changed the way we played the game and changed the way the game ran. Our kids need to learn to adjust to the way the game’s being called. Every team is probably this way the first week. They want to get out and compete and get after it, and we got a lot of early fouls.’
‘We had to go to our zone a little bit just to protect some kids to prevent them from two or three fouls,’ Carmichael said. ‘When we did that, we covered them pretty well. We want to apply pressure, and we just weren’t doing that. We have to have our defense lead us to some easy baskets. At that point, with the foul trouble, we were just trying to hang on till halftime, but we were pleased going into the half.’
South Central’s shooting woes showed up again to start the third quarter as the Rebels missed their first seven shots and hit only 3 of 14 for the period. The Cougars, on the other hand, found the basket once again, with 7 of 15 shooting, to push to a 51-32 lead.
The Rebels made a slight gain late, closing to 61-49 following a three-ball by Ryan Wemes, but the game belonged to the Cougars, who went on for the 16-point win.
‘The way the flow of the game got and everybody being aggressive, it got us in a lot of foul trouble early,’ Walters said. ‘Lincoln Jones, he wasn’t on the floor a whole lot, so we had to play without him. The guys rallied around and did really well.’
‘We told them at halftime, if we can get it under 10, we have a chance,’ Carmichael said. ‘We just kept knocking on the door, and, once we got there, we made a silly foul or something that would negate what was going on. It’s just a learning experience.’
Collin Book led the Cougars with 22 points, and Jones followed up with 13. North Harrison connected on 22 of 47 (47 percent) field-goal attempts and 18 of 30 free throws. The Cougars turned over the ball 11 times.
‘Collin Book’s role last year was to defend, and he only averaged three points a game,’ Walters said. ‘Here we are calling on him to be one of our top players and scorers, and he stepped right in that role tonight. You’ve got to hand it to him; he had a lot of confidence and played well.’
Bennett had 18 points to lead the Rebels, and Kyle Pease followed with 11. South Central shot just 16 of 50 (32 percent) from the field and 15 of 28 from the charity stripe. The Rebels turned over the ball 16 times.
‘We started out 0 for 7 from the line, and we got good shots,’ Carmichael said. ‘That’s the sad thing. We got what we wanted, and, if you can’t convert free throws and easy buckets, you’re doomed for failure. So, that’s something we’ll have to work on.’
‘For the most part, I was very pleased with our effort, but effort only takes you so far,’ he said. ‘You’ve still got to execute. You’ve got to have people on board, and I think tonight, when adversity hit, we saw some people kind of detract and get off board a little bit and panic. Emotions showed and attitudes showed, which we hadn’t seen all year. Hopefully, we can move on and get better the next couple of days.’
Walters said his team was eager and hungry to perform well.
‘These are really good kids,’ he said. ‘They came in and want to work and want to compete, and tonight we did that. I’ve been around this for a while now, and any win is a good win. ‘ When you get one in the win column, it’s definitely a positive for everybody. It’s something we expected to do tonight and something we did.’
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