Poor shooting dooms North against Salem
The worst time to have a poor shooting night is in the post-season, where every shot counts, but that’s what happened to the North Harrison Lady Cats, who struggled all night against Salem in the semi-final of the Class 3A Sectional 30 at Charlestown Friday. The Lady Lions, on the other hand, used their quickness and ball movement to get a 61-47 win and advance into the final against Silver Creek.
North Harrison had struggled with its shooting in the regular season matchup against the Lady Lions, and Lady Cats coach Hal Pearson was hoping his team could get by that.
‘I think we shot 16 percent the first half,’ Pearson said of the earlier game after getting by Charlestown in the first round. ‘Hopefully, we can shoot a little better coming out on Friday. We’ve definitely got to get back and cover their transition, keep those guards from beating us off the dribble, which is what happened quite a bit against Crawford (County) tonight. Their guards just beat their people off the dribble.’
Pearson, however, saw his hopes fade into darkness as his team suffered another poor shooting night.
The Lady Cats connected on 4 of 11 field goals in the first quarter, all deuces. Salem didn’t shoot that well overall but had a pair of three-balls and added a pair of singles for a 14-8 lead after the first quarter.
North Harrison fought back in the second quarter with a 7-2 burst, as Rebekah Stephenson buried a three to pull the Lady Cats to within three at 18-15. Salem tried to pull away, but Kendra Lambert got a deuce-and-one in the final minute to keep North Harrison’s deficit at three, 23-20, at halftime.
‘When shots didn’t fall early, then turnovers came a little bit, because we just tightened up and we struggled to find a way to score,’ Pearson said. ‘We got looks early and held them defensively, and, eventually, there’s a time frame you can only hold so long defensively without scoring.’
Salem tried to pull away in the third quarter with a 9-3 run, but Stephenson swished a three to get the Lady Cats to within six points. Lambert later scored again to pull North Harrison back to within four, but Nikia Morgan got an old-fashioned three and Kaitlyn Lamb added a pair of free throws for Salem.
North Harrison missed its next three shots, and Lamb added a jumper to push the Salem lead to 39-28 with one quarter to go.
‘We got beat back by the bigs a couple of times,’ Pearson said. ‘The other thing is you extend so much to get it to four, and we got a little tired. Stephenson had hit a couple of shots at that point and she was really dragging. You hate to take a kid out when they’ve hit a couple of shots, but she was struggling to get up and down the floor.’
Salem kept its lead in double digits until the four-minute mark, when the Lady Cats finally had a 7-0 burst, with Cassie Crawford hitting a three to close the gap to 48-41 with just over 2-1/2 minutes to go.
Morgan, however, negated that with a deuce-and-one, and North Harrison never saw its deficit back to single digits again.
‘We were trying to make a comeback, and they just did a nice job,’ Pearson said. ‘They ran a lot of different people that can score and do a lot of good things for them, and it’s hard to match up with them because, if you matchup outside, they expose your post pretty quickly.’
‘We gave up ball penetration,’ he said. ‘We talked about going in you can’t give up ball penetration because they create for those bigs.’
Lambert led North Harrison with 14 points, and Stephenson came off the bench for 11. Hayley Renneker added 10 points for the Lady Cats (9-13), who were just 15 of 55 (27 percent) from the field and 3 of 8 from the free-throw line, with all of those free throws coming in the first half. The Lady Cats had 16 turnovers.
‘I thought we did a nice job rebounding,’ Pearson said. ‘It was just on their post and taking away from what they do. There’s some tendencies there we didn’t play like we should have. We didn’t get over the top and deny the post. Once we were down, we were kind of stumped because we wanted to go man-to-man and chase and try to press.’
Salem (16-6) was led by Morgan with 17, and Kristie Taylor had 14. Lamb followed with 12 points. The Lady Lions hit 19 of 42 field-goal attempts (45 percent) and 19 of 29 free throws. Salem had 10 turnovers.
‘We played hard,’ Pearson said. ‘Our kids didn’t give up. Our seniors play hard all the way through. We lost tonight, but we ended on a high note the last few games of the year and played really well.’
‘We’ve got a solid nucleus coming back,’ he said. ‘We’ve got some kids in areas that can help us. We’ll be fine. We’ve just got to get back in the gym this summer. We’ve got to get to shooting quite a bit and get right back at it. We’ll take a few weeks off and see what we can do.’
Salem went on to lose to Silver Creek in the final, 49-33.