Cubs bury Cougars late
On Friday night, the North Harrison Cougars played West Washington an additional 16 minutes ‘ going four overtimes ‘ before losing 79-76 to the Senators. For three quarters on Saturday night, the Cougars held their own against visiting Madison, but the Cubs exploded for 31 points in the fourth quarter, grilling North Harrison in a 77-49 shellacking.
‘We’ve made progress,’ North Harrison coach Kevin Jones said. ‘We’ve gotten much better. There’s still some holes in our game and little things we’ve got to work on in practice. We’ve got to do a better job of translating our practice work into game work. We’re still not very good at that, but we’re a lot better team. We’re 4-12, but I don’t feel like we’re a 4-12 team.’
The Cougars had an early edge over the Cubs through most of the first quarter. The teams were tied at 10 following a three by Madison’s Nick Macon, and Tyler Tucker gave the Cubs a 12-10 lead on a layup. Jake Book tied the game at 12, but Madison countered with its first run, good for seven straight points and a 19-12 advantage.
North Harrison worked its way back into the mix as Chandler Jenkins scored inside and Book cashed in two more from the charity strip. The Cougars were down three, 19-16, at the end of the first period.
Jones said he was hoping for a slower game, telling his players to be more patient on their shot selection.
‘I told them at the end of the first quarter, when it was 19-16, that we were playing too fast,’ he said. ‘They (Madison) are a well-oiled, offensive machine, and they can score 75 points and win. It takes us four overtimes to score 76 points. We’re just not on their level offensively yet. I told them, if they get in the 70s, we’ll probably get beat 20 to 25 points. I was pretty much right.’
The Cougars suffered a rash of turnovers early in the second period, and Madison converted for six straight points. North Harrison countered with a 7-2 burst, with Jenkins hitting from behind the arc to close the gap to five. The Cougars, however, had just three field goals for the quarter. Macon scored the last eight points of the half, canning a pair of three-balls, as the Cubs took a 36-23 lead.
‘The worst thing that happened to us was that first quarter, where we hit some shots and were within reach,’ Jones said. ‘I told the assistant coaches, ‘It’s fool’s gold.’ I told the kids, too, that they (Madison) can continue to score a 19-points-a-quarter pace. It’s going to be hard for us to score at a 19-points-a-quarter pace. That eventually caught up to us.’
North Harrison began the third period with an 8-0 run, closing the gap to five, 36-31, following a deuce-and-one by Jenkins. Kevin Stewart scored inside, starting a 9-0 run for Madison, with Macon scoring all but two, and the Cubs extended their lead to 46-33 with one quarter left.
Madison then went on a terror in the fourth, beginning the final eight minutes with a 16-2 run to lead 62-35. That run broke the Cougars’ back, as the Cubs went on to outscore North Harrison 31-16 in the period for the 77-49 win.
‘They trick you into playing that fast-pace game,’ Jones said. ‘We cut it to six, 37-31, and we took a wild three when we didn’t need to take it. They hit a couple of shots. We missed a couple of shots, and it snowballed on us.’
‘Sometimes, if you get down 12 or 13 points in the fourth quarter, you want to try to press your way back in,’ he said. ‘If we would have done that, then it would have gotten ugly quick. Macon is a one-man press-breaker.’
Jenkins led the Cougars with 15 points, and Book finished with 12. Alex Flock added 10 points for the Cougars, who hit 18 of 36 field-goal attempts (50 percent) and 10 of 12 free throws. North Harrison had 21 turnovers.
‘We’re not very good at just holding the ball, but we wanted to be patient on our possessions,’ Jones said. ‘When we actually did break the press, that’s what we wanted to do unless we had a wide-open layup or a two-on-one. We wanted to pull it out and run some clock, too.’
Macon was the only Madison player in double-figures, but he tallied a whopping 35 points, cashing in six threes for the night. Madison hit 25 of 49 field-goal attempts (51 percent) and 16 of 26 free throws. The Cubs had 13 turnovers.
‘He’s pretty good,’ Jones said of Macon. ‘We knew he was a good player coming in. He’s a shot maker. He’s not afraid to pull up anywhere. He’s quick. He’s good with the ball. Guard-wise, he’s probably the best guard we’ve seen all year. He had 35, and nobody else had double figures.’
During a night where the student takes on the teacher, Jones will return to his old stomping grounds Friday, as the Cougars go up against rival Crawford County, where Jones was as assistant for Wolfpack coach Mike Brown, in what could be an interesting game of basketball chess.
‘I don’t have to say anything,’ Jones said. ‘What coach (Mike) Brown has done for me means a lot to me. I’ve stolen one of his old assistants, Ernie (Stroud), and we’ve got one of our old (Wolfpack) players, Alex (Baker), on staff. I’ve coached those kids there. It’s a rivalry game. We need to be sharp in practice this week, and we’ve got to come out and play smart. I think we have a chance to win the game if we play our way.
‘Crawford is going to pressure and push the pace,’ Jones continued. ‘Coach Brown has been there seven or eight years now, and it was rough for him in year one, too. I think we’re turning the corner. I’m encouraged by where we’re at with these kids, but we’ve just got to get better.’
Madison 19 17 10 31 ‘ 77
North Harrison 16 7 10 16 ‘ 49
Madison (9-5) ‘ Tucker 7, White 9 Weaver 3, Dryden 2, Macon 35, Stewart 5, Anderson 9, Perry 3, Anderson 4
North Harrison (4-12) ‘ Robertson 2, Fock 11, Troxell 4, Jenkins 15, Book 12, Arnold 1, Nowak 4
3-point goals ‘ Madison 8 (Macon 6, Perry, Anderson); North Harrison 5 (Flock 3, Jenkins, Book).