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Lady Cats fall short to Austin

Lady Cats fall short to Austin
Lady Cats fall short to Austin
North Harrison's Kendra Lambert keeps in close touch with Austin's Megan Smith in the second half of the Lady Eagles' 66-61 win. Smith finished with 24 points and Lambert 23. click for larger version)

The North Harrison Lady Cats came up short in a fourth-quarter rally to the visiting Lady Eagles of Austin last Wednesday night in a Mid-Southern Conference match-up. The Lady Cats won only one of the four quarters in the 66-61 loss, dropping their record to 8-6 for the season.
‘Confidence is our biggest issue at the moment,’ North Harrison coach Missy Voyles said. ‘We are playing freshmen and sophomores on the wings. They are good shooters and, as soon as they start believing that, their shots will start to fall.’
The game began at a blistering pace, with both teams hitting the basket to keep the opening moments of the game close. North Harrison got out in front first, but Kaitlyn Embrey and Akaya Walker drilled threes, putting the Lady Eagles in front.
Austin stayed in the lead until Kendra Lambert scored inside, giving the Lady Cats a brief 17-16 edge. Embrey followed with a second three, and Austin had a 19-17 advantage after one quarter.
‘It was a little quicker pace than I anticipated, but they shot the ball extremely well,’ Voyles said. ‘A couple of the threes they hit, we were standing on the three-point line on defense.’
The two teams traded the lead twice early in the second period, then Austin got an 8-0 burst to lead 30-23. Carlie Burson scored inside for the Lady Cats, but Austin’s point guard, Megan Smith, drilled a three to counter, starting a 6-0 burst for a 36-25 Austin lead.
North Harrison’s Kim Chiquito and Lambert got two of those back from the charity stripe, but the Lady Eagles had a 36-27 lead at the half.
The big stat for the first half for Austin was seven three-pointers.
‘We have struggled all year to recognize shooters,’ Voyles said. ‘I felt early on we were out of defensive position often, reaching then getting beat and creating a help defense situation.’
Austin controlled the third quarter, with the Lady Cats getting no closer than seven.
The Lady Eagles pushed their advantage back to 11 early in the fourth, but the Lady Cats pulled back to within seven, 57-50, when Chiquito scored inside.
North Harrison finally got to within five when Stevi Burns drove the lane for two, reducing the Lady Eagles’ to 59-54. Austin, however, made good use of the free-throw line to keep its distance and to push the lead back to eight.
Lambert got a final three, but Austin finished with the 66-61 win.
‘Foul trouble hurt more than normal with (Shayla) Neal not playing,’ Voyles said. ‘(Jourdan) McAfee’s third foul was a ridiculous call, and it hurt us. We are pretty shorthanded at the moment. (Jill) Book, (Cammie) Jones and (Rachel) Comer are all fighting injuries. Chiquito just came back from her second injury. However, I think our players are still struggling with confidence more than physical talent. We are better than we have performed the last three games.’
Lambert led the Lady Cats with 23 points, and Burson followed with 10. North Harrison shot 22 of 66 from the field (33 percent) and 16 of 22 from the free-throw line. The Lady Cats had just 12 turnovers.
‘We didn’t capitalize on some opportunities late in the game,’ Voyles said. ‘You have to finish a play late, whether you get a whistle or not. I felt I had players open for good shots late in the game that didn’t want to shoot.’
Smith led Austin with 24 points, canning four three-pointers, and Holli Reynolds had 15 points. The Lady Eagles hit 20 of 40 shots (50 percent) and 19 of 23 free throws. Austin had 18 turnovers.
‘We did chase Smith for a very short time in the third quarter, but we came out of it pretty quickly,’ Voyles said. ‘We have to do a better job with defensive positioning.’
‘Our defense gets better typically as the game progresses,’ she said. ‘I’m not sure we’ve played a game this year where I felt we came out focused defensively and recognizing opponent’s shooters.’

Austin 19 17 17 13 ‘ 66
North Harrison 17 10 13 21 ‘ 61
Austin (7-8, 3-3 MSC) ‘ Smith 24, Misamore 3, Embrey 9, Jeffries 2, Riley 4, Reynolds 15, Walker 9.
North Harrison (8-6, 2-2) ‘ Book 9, Lambert 23, Burson 10, McAfee 6, Jones 1, Chiquito 3, Burns 9.
3-point goals ‘ Austin 9 (Smith 4, Misamore, Embrey 3, Walker 1); North Harrison 3 (Book 2, Lambert).