Chiquito, NH storm past MSC champ Brownstown
Essentially, the eight-team Class 3A Scottsburg Sectional field is a tournament of Mid-Southern Conference teams, with the exception of Madison.
To make Brownstown Central the favorite, a team that went a perfect 8-0 in MSC play, wouldn’t be a far stretch for any bold predictor to make.
Busting brackets was in the cards for the North Harrison Lady Cats during first-round play last Wednesday.
Falling behind by 14 points early in the second quarter, North Harrison stormed back. Defense was the cure-all for the Lady Cats. Brownstown Central turned the ball over 17 times post-halftime. When North Harrison took the lead with 26 seconds left in the third quarter, the Lady Cats continued to pressure and surge ahead.
A 22-point night by freshman Jessicka Chiquito paved the way for a 52-44 upset of Brownstown Central.
‘Defense has been our strong suit,’ North Harrison coach Missy Voyles said. ‘I felt like our defense really turned the game around and created some good offense. We kind of depend on that.’
Stevi Burns, a sophomore pest on the defensive end, was everywhere. Deflecting balls, getting in the space of Lady Braves’ ball-handlers, Burns made Brownstown Central’s transition to the offensive end difficult in the latter stages.
‘We knew what we needed to do and stepped up our defense,’ Burns said. ‘Working as a team, we were able to get the ball back several times. Defense leads to offense for us.’
Brownstown Central, a team that won the regular season meeting 44-39 a few weeks back, started the game well. Brooke Ebbing was a load to handle, scoring 12 of her team’s first 22 points. When she converted a 3-point play in the second quarter, the Lady Braves had their widest margin, 22-8.
Ebbing finished the game with 21 points.
‘Can you believe we couldn’t find (Ebbing) in the first half?,’ Voyles asked. ‘She was the pregame talk. It truly was a point of emphasis.’
Closing the half on a 10-5 run, North Harrison was able to cut Brownstown’s lead to 27-18.
The second half was all North Harrison. Brownstown Central scored just two field goals the rest of the way.
Burns hit North Harrison’s lone outside shot from the wing, bringing the Lady Cats’ faithful to their feet and the team within four points. It helped start a 15-3 North Harrison surge to close the third stanza.
Cali Nolot had a put-back after Burns misfired on a triple.
Chiquito became involved in the offense, taking a pass from Nolot for a score, and then attacking off the dribble with a minute to go before the half, knotting the game at 32.
The lead shifted hands due to defense. Nolot came up with a back-court steal, drawing a foul. She made one freebie, putting North Harrison up 33-32. Off another Brownstown Central miscue, Carlie Burson ended the half with a make.
‘We struggled early putting the ball in the basket,’ Voyles said. ‘We did a little better job executing our offense in the second half. We quit looking so shell-shocked. We did a better job of seeing what we were supposed to see and where the ball was supposed to go.’
North Harrison went ahead by six early in the fourth with another Nolot-to-Chiquito link-up.
From that point, it was a battle of free-throw attrition. In a game that lasted nearly two hours, the closing seven minutes was featured at the line.
Brownstown Central didn’t help its cause at the stripe, missing two front ends of one-and-ones, eventually going 10 of 14 in the fourth. North Harrison, meanwhile, was good enough, 15 of 26. Chiquito had 11 of the makes, including four in a row to give North Harrison a 43-36 edge with 2:36 to go.
‘I didn’t realize she had that,’ Voyles said of Chiquito’s scoring output. ‘Go, Jessie. After the first quarter, she was calm and cool.’
Brownstown Central, a team loaded with seniors that averages 56 points per game, was stuck offensively. The Lady Braves never got closer than five points the rest of the way, as the young and hungry North Harrison team was able to out-dual the experience of Brownstown Central.
‘Us coming in and to beat an experienced team like that is how every game is right now for us,’ Voyles said. ‘It’s great. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s a big step for us. It’s a young group of kids that have played all year.’
Burns, who scored five points and had five rebounds, was confident the team could turn around after first-half struggles.
‘I knew we would have it because of our teamwork and team effort,’ the sophomore said. ‘It’s an awesome win. We’re all so excited in there and can’t wait to see where we can go.’
Nolot finished with eight points, while Jourdan McAfee had seven.
The win earned North Harrison a date with Silver Creek, which defeated Corydon Central in the opposite first-round game.
Brownstown Central 17 10 5 12 ‘ 44
North Harrison 6 12 17 17 ‘ 52
Brownstown Central (19-5) ‘ Ebbing 21, Wischmeier 8, Rieckers 5, Klinge 3, Wehmiller 3, Goecker 2, Reynolds 2.
North Harrison (16-9) ‘ J. Chiquito 22, Nolot 8, McAfee 7, Burns 5, Burson 5, Hinton 3, Rennirt 2.
3-point goals ‘ Brownstown Central 3 (Ebbing, Rieckers, Klinge); North Harrison 1 (Burns).