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Lady Highlanders upend Lady Cats

North Harrison struggled and Floyd Central got a shot in the arm as the visiting Lady Highlanders earned a win on the road against the Lady Cats, 70-57. It was just the second win for the Lady Highlanders, while North Harrison dropped to 5-5 for the season.
‘Let me get my breath,’ said a smiling Floyd Central coach Kirk Hamsley. ‘It’s a very good win. Our kids played hard. We made some crazy fouls early that allowed (North Harrison) to stay in the game the first half from the free-throw line. We’ve got to quit doing that. The kids battled back and did some nice things.’
‘It’s disappointing from the standpoint I’m seeing the same mistakes being made at the end of close games over and over,’ said Lady Cats coach Missy Voyles. ‘We’re not getting things done. How many times do you keep saying the same things and they keep making the same mistake? At some point, you have to quit making the same mistake. If you get any better, then you have to improve on things we’re not changing.’
The lead changed hands four times early in the game, then Floyd Central junior Tori Kingsley lit up the nets for seven quick points in the period to push the Lady Highlanders’ lead to 16-10. Kasey Kelley and Kendra Lambert got five of those back, closing the gap to one, but Riley Kaiser answered for the Lady Highlanders as Floyd Central led 18-15 after one quarter.
Lambert and Jill Book combined for seven points early in the second period to tie the game at 22. Floyd Central, however, was playing with confidence, and Kelsey Smith later scored inside for a 28-24 Floyd Central lead. Lambert and Book tied the game again, then Brooke Hinton drilled a Floyd Central three-ball. After the two teams traded two more baskets, Riley Kaiser scored at the buzzer in transition and the Lady Highlanders took a 35-30 lead to the locker room at the break.
Floyd Central’s half-court defense proved to be a problem for the Lady Cats, with the Lady Highlanders forcing 12 North Harrison turnovers in the first 16 minutes.
‘We kind of go into panic mode sometimes, and something we’ve got to get better at is finishing things,’ Voyles said. ‘We played two really good quarters and then we just kind of fell apart.’
‘We’re trying to become a better man-to-man team, and we feel like that’s going to be our bread and butter,’ Hamsley said. ‘They’re buying into it some. It’s hard work, and a lot of teams don’t do it because of that. We feel like if we get better as the season goes on, we’ll be ready to go to the sectional and be competitive.’
North Harrison failed to gain any ground on the Lady Highlanders through most of the third period then lost ground as Hinton and Riley Kaiser extended the Floyd lead to 10, 52-42, with 1:42 left in the quarter. Lambert and Katie Kaiser traded threes, then Alex Gott swished a 12-footer to pull North Harrison back within eight, 55-47, after three quarters.
‘How many times were my big girls open and we didn’t get it in there?’ Voyles asked. ‘I think if you go back and look at the film, there’s a lot of times we were wide open in there and the ball didn’t go where it should have. That’s just recognition. You have to recognize those things and execute, especially late in the game.’
Riley Kaiser kept Floyd Central’s lead in double digits until Lambert pulled the Lady Cats back within six, 60-54, with 4:58 remaining in the game. Riley Kaiser responded with another deuce-and-one, putting Floyd Central’s lead back to nine. North Harrison got no closer, and the Lady Highlanders finished out with four straight points to win 70-57.
Kendra Lambert led all scorers with 24 points and hit 8 of 9 free throws and a pair of 3s. Emily Giles followed up with 10 for the Lady Cats, who hit 16 of 47 field goals (34 percent) and 20 of 29 free throws. Turnovers were a big problem with North Harrison coughing up the ball 26 times.
‘Kendra had a nice game but, as I told her, she had 24 and she could have had 30,’ Voyles said. ‘I don’t know how many times I’ve seen her not initiate when she should, which is not going at times when she can. She was better tonight than she’s been the last couple of days.’
Riley Kaiser came off the bench to lead the Lady Highlanders with 17. Tori Kingsley had 11 off the bench, and Brooke Hinton and Kelsey Mayfield finished with 10 points each. Floyd had 31 total points off the bench, was 26 of 54 from the field (48 percent), 15 of 19 from the charity stripe and had 20 turnovers.
‘Tori Kingsley stepped up and did a real nice job,’ Hamsley said. ‘She had six points there ‘ boom, boom, boom ‘ and then Riley Kaiser came off the bench there and helped us with our ball handling, passing to people and getting the ball to people where it needed to be to score. She had a heck of a night.’
‘Your focus has to be on Hinton and Kelsey Mayfield initially,’ Voyles said. ‘We’ve got to recognize when a kid comes into the game and is driving and doing things. We let (Riley) do what she wanted to do. It doesn’t matter who it is. Defensively, you have to take away what people are trying to do, and we didn’t do that.’
‘We’re going to continue working on things we’re not accomplishing on offense,’ Voyles said. ‘We’re not executing late in the game on offense. We need to get a little better at coming off screens and handling pressure, and that’s kind of where we are.’
North Harrison will host Salem tomorrow (Thursday) at 7:30 p.m. then travel to Henryville Saturday for a 2:30 p.m. tip.