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2nd-half surge puts Braves by Cougars

2nd-half surge puts Braves by Cougars
2nd-half surge puts Braves by Cougars
North Harrison’s Tyler Bement takes to the air around Brownstown Central’s Skylar Thompson in the Cougars’ 77-58 loss Friday in Ramsey. Photo by Wade Bell (click for larger version)

For the first 16 minutes Friday night, it appeared the North Harrison Cougars might pull off a shocker against visiting Brownstown Central as the pair went head-to-head in a Mid-Southern Conference matchup. The second 16 minutes, however, went the opposite direction, especially in the third period, as the Braves pulled away for a 77-58 win.
‘Tonight, they were the better team, and we’ll get to work,’ North Harrison coach Greg Walters said. ‘There’s no moral victories. The guys were proud we played good for a stretch. We played our best basketball in the first half for a stretch we’ve played all year. … That third quarter, they got a bunch of those 50-50 balls, and we didn’t come up with them. When we did get them to miss, they came back up with the ball, which was big for them.’
Neither team could get a handle in the first half, but the Cougars stuck with the Braves through nine lead changes. North Harrison went up by four, 21-17, when Cory Smith went into the paint, but Brett McCory cut the margin to two, 21-19, with a pair of free throws at the end of the period.
The Cougars held the edge through the first 2-1/2 minutes of the second quarter, but McCory then scored inside and later added two free throws to put Brownstown Central back in front, but only briefly.
It wasn’t long before Smith buried a North Harrison three, and the Cougars again pushed their advantage to four.
North Harrison held the advantage to the end of the half, taking a 35-34 lead to the locker room at the break.
Walters said the plan for the second half was to take the ball inside and, hopefully, put Brownstown Central’s big guys in added foul troubles.
‘We’re a guard-oriented team, so that’s our style of play,’ Walters said. ‘We’re kind of small, and we’re trying to play drive-and-kick basketball and push the tempo.
‘The thing I was proud of was we had several turn-overs early in that third quarter against Silver Creek last week, and this week, for the most part, I thought we took care of the ball well. …,’ he said. ‘We made that a focus, being able to beat the press and get good, quick looks out of it. We got a lot of layups early. … We got a lot of good looks early, and we were able to knock them down.’
North Harrison continued to hold its own against Brownstown Central through the first three minutes of the second half, trailing by just three, 46-43, following a drive by Tyler Bement.
At that point, however, things began to unravel for the Cougars as Brownstown Central opened a 12-2 run to lead 58-45. The Braves added more to that later when Austin Snodgrass scored for a 62-47 lead after three quarters.
‘There was a stretch there where we probably needed to run some offense and get a better look than we got in the second half,’ Walters said. ‘They did a good job of pressuring us and making us take the first easy basket.’
North Harrison got a burst early in the fourth period as Hinton sank a pair from the stripe, and Smith got a deuce and three-ball to cut the deficit to one.
North Harrison, however, could get no closer, and the Braves went on to chalk up the 77-58 win.
‘We were right there for a stretch,’ Walters said. ‘We had some guys in foul trouble, and they caused it. They did a great job of just attacking us. I know one time a guy comes out with a mouth full of blood and they call the foul on us. We were just trying to stand our ground. We tried to help from all directions. We tried to help down. We tried to go zone. We tried to help from the back side. We tried to trap a couple of times.’
Smith led North Harrison (2-3) with 23 points, and Bement followed with 15. Hinton added 10 for the Cougars, who dropped in 20 of 44 field-goal attempts (45 percent) and 14 of 19 free throws. The Cougars had 15 turnovers.
‘We were trying to attack the basket and get them in foul trouble, and, really, we did,’ Walters said. ‘I think we picked up six straight fouls on them, which was big. We don’t have a lot of size, and they do. They were able to capitalize on it.’
McCory led Brownstown Central (4-0) with 27 points, and Chaz Schneider finished with 18. Skylar Thompson dumped in 11 points for the Braves, who poured in 26 of 49 field-goal attempts (53 percent) and 23 of 31 free throws. Brownstown Central had 16 turnovers.