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Youth leads NH past New Albany

Youth leads NH past New Albany
Youth leads NH past New Albany
North Harrison's Stevi Burns looks for some help as she is pressured by New Albany's Earlean Davis in the first half. Photo by Wade Bell

It was a night of youth in the North Harrison gymnasium Thursday, and it was youth that carried the Lady Cats to a big win over visiting New Albany. Three freshmen and a sophomore accounted for 40 of the Lady Cats’ 46 points in their 46-42 win in their physical battle with the Lady Bulldogs.
‘I think every win right now, if you come out with a win, that’s huge,’ North Harrison coach Missy Voyles said. ‘To be this young and come in at a varsity level, and be able to come out on top with games, it’s just really big for them right now and being able to handle the pressure.’
The Lady Cats’ young team got a taste of Hoosier Hills Conference pressure from New Albany in the early going with both teams battling back and forth. North Harrison got a three-ball out of Hallie Hinton late in the first period for a 14-9 lead. Both teams added a free throw before the end of the quarter, with North Harrison up, 15-10.
Both teams struggled through the second period with a rash of turnovers and missed shots; the Lady Cats hit two of 11, while New Albany punched in just one of 11. By the end of the quarter, the Lady Cats had just a slight lead, 19-13, at the break.
Voyles said there was little concern about her young team being able to handle the physicality the Lady Bulldogs brought to the game.
‘They’re pretty physical,’ she said of her own team. ‘That’s kind of a thing with girls’ basketball versus boys’. I don’t think boys usually come into high school as physically prepared. They haven’t finished growing as much. Girls are pretty physically mature when they get to high school. I don’t see that as much of an issue with high school girls, not being ready to be physical just because they’re 14.’
Marissa Jones scored inside for the Lady Bulldogs to begin the second half, closing the gap back to four, 19-15. North Harrison countered with a 9-0 run, with Jessicka Chiquito scoring five of those.
The two teams swapped baskets for the next few minutes, then it was New Albany’s turn to go on a run that included a Megan Thevenow three-ball to tighten the game back to three, 31-28, with one quarter to go.
‘We got out of whack the second half quite a bit,’ Voyles said. ‘We were overplaying positions and double-teaming when we shouldn’t have been. We kind of got back in and got to realizing what we were supposed to be doing later and did a better job.’
Chiquito got two freebies to begin the fourth quarter, but Brianne Nixon found a pair of buckets in the paint for New Albany to close the gap to one, 33-32.
North Harrison scored the next five points but lost starter Jourdan McAfee to fouls with just less than five minutes to go.
New Albany began putting the Lady Cats on the foul line in hopes of getting the ball back. North Harrison did struggle a bit, getting just one each of four two-shot situations. It was enough, however, to push the Lady Cats’ lead back to nine, 44-35.
New Albany’s Nixon canned a deuce and Jenna Shine drilled a three, but the Lady Bulldogs ran out of clock as North Harrison hung on to win, 46-42.
‘We’ll get better,’ Voyles said of the missed free throws. ‘ … That’s just mental. That’s just youth. That’s a big situation. I’m more worried about that situation than I am the physicality of the game for them.’
Chiquito led the Lady Cats with 13 points, while Cali Nolot and Stevi Burns finished with 10 each. North Harrison connected on 13 of 42 field-goal attempts (31 percent) and 18 of 36 free throws. The Lady Cats had 17 turnovers.
Voyles said the free-throw line has not been kind to her team during the first half of the season.
‘It’s been a demon all year,’ she said. ‘As well as we do a lot of things, we’re not shooting free throws real well. I’ve been coming in in the morning, and I’ve had some kids coming in and shooting with me. I think after tonight a few more of them should show up in the morning with me at 7:30 and shoot a few more free throws.’
‘(Chiquito) committed a really stupid foul at the other end and they scored two points and I called her over and told her that was really stupid and that she owed me two points,’ Voyles said. ‘She put the first one in and she smiled, then she missed the second. So, she had to shoot again to get a second one in.’
Nixon led New Albany with 14 points. The Lady Bulldogs hit 15 of 48 field-goal attempts (31 percent) and nine of 17 from the charity stripe. New Albany had 20 turnovers for the four quarters.
‘Even though they didn’t handle (the pressure) from the free-throw line, they were still handling the pressure of the defense and not turning it over,’ Voyles said of her team. ‘When they got a little pressure of trying to score, they did a good job of maintaining their defense and getting where they need to be. They’re going to mature and get the experience with every game. I think they’ll just keep improving.’
North Harrison host South Central tonight (Wednesday) at 7:30 p.m.

New Albany 10 3 15 14 ‘ 42
North Harrison 15 4 12 15 ‘ 46
New Albany ‘ Thevenow 4, Shine 8, Anthony 4, Nixon 14, Camm 6, Jones 4, Lyninger 1, Knight 1
North Harrison ‘ McAfee 6, Burns 10, Nolot 10, J. Chiquito 13, Hinton 7
3-point goals ‘ New Albany 1 (Thevenow, Shine); North Harrison 1 (Hinton).