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‘Tight’ North Harrison sweats out Creek

North Harrison head coach Missy Voyles said she wasn’t thinking about 2003 and Beech Grove’s Katie Gearlds when Silver Creek’s Alexis Barnett was fouled while the Lady Dragons were down three with no time left on the clock.
Gearlds, who would be named Indiana’s Miss Basketball that year and was an eventual standout both at Purdue University and in the Women’s National Basketball Association, hit three free throws with no time left on the clock to send the 2003 Southport Semi-state into overtime and paved the way for Beech Grove to hand the Lady Cats their only loss of the season.
Fast forward a dozen years and, while the stakes were much lower this time, the intensity was just as high in the semi-final round of the Class 3A sectional at Scottsburg. With North Harrison leading 47-44 and no time on the clock, Barnett toed the line for the first of three free throws. Her shot clanked off the iron multiple times before falling through the net. The second shot, however, careened off the right side of the rim and into the Scott County air, punching North Harrison’s ticket to the sectional final against Salem.
‘They are pretty gutsy,’ Voyles said of her team. ‘They’ve played a lot of basketball.’
North Harrison’s coach said she wouldn’t have been overly concerned had Barnett sank the final two from the charity stripe.
‘We weren’t going to lose the game on her free throws. It’s just a new game at 0-0. Momentum was swinging our way,’ Voyles said.
Silver Creek jumped out to a 6-0 lead before the Lady Cats’ junior Callie Burson banked in a shot at the 4:33 mark of the opening period.
‘We were really tight early,’ Voyles said. ‘No one wanted to lead.’
From there, only two more field goals were scored, with North Harrison freshman Cali Nolot knocking in a three and Silver Creek senior Kelsi Scott scoring inside for a 10-7 Lady Dragons’ lead at the first stop.
At one point in the period, North Harrison forced six Silver Creek turnovers in seven possessions.
The Lady Cats’ defense picked up where it left off in the second quarter as the team went on a 7-2 run to take a 14-12 lead. The spurt included a deuce by Burson, an old-fashioned three by Nolot and a field goal by freshman Hallie Hinton. Neither team gained much traction the rest of the way to halftime, with Silver Creek surging ahead by one and North Harrison regaining the lead on a banked three by Hinton.
North Harrison freshman Emma Nokes scored to give her club a 22-20 lead with two minutes to play, but Silver Creek countered with two free throws by Barnett, then Lauren Polston drained one from downtown at the half-time buzzer to give the Lady Dragons a 25-22 lead at the break.
Silver Creek notched the first four points of the third for its biggest lead of the game at 29-22, bringing on a timeout from Voyles at the 5:51 mark.
Whatever Voyles said worked as the Lady Cats closed the quarter with a 10-2 spurt that resulted in a one-point advantage heading into the final eight minutes, 32-31. Freshman guard Jessicka Chiquito had a free throw, then sophomore Stevi Burns, Nolot and Hinton had back-to-back-to-back triples. The only bucket by Silver Creek in the final six minutes of the third period was an inside deuce by Scott.
The clubs swapped points for much of the fourth, with Silver Creek knotting the affair at 40-all on another Scott basket at the 3:02 mark. A basket and free throw by Hinton pushed the Lady Cats back out front, 43-40.
Scott scored the final of her game-high 24 points with 38 seconds remaining, making it 43-42 in favor of the Lady Cats, who would then get a single free throw by Hinton and another by Burns after she stole a pass in Silver Creek’s back court. Burns dropped in her freebie with 7.3 showing.
Silver Creek raced the ball downcourt, but the ball was blocked out of bounds by North Harrison junior Jourdan McAfee on a shot by Silver Creek’s Haley Baxter with a half-second remaining. Scott inbounded the ball to Barnett, who was being chased by Nolot, in the right corner. Barnett caught the ball beyond the arc and let fly an awkward shot. Officials called Nolot for the foul, setting up the dramatic free throws.
The Lady Cats were paced by Nolot with 15 points, Hinton scored 13, Burns had nine and Burson scored four. Rounding out North Harrison’s scoring were Nokes with two points and single points coming from Chiquito and Taylor Rennirt. North Harrison was only eight of 22 from the free-throw line and forced Silver Creek into an eye-popping 26 turnovers. The Lady Cats, who had 13 miscues, shot 15 of 37 from the floor and were seven of 20 on threes.
Voyles said the Lady Dragons’ post presence was the reason more than half of her team’s shots were from beyond the arc: ‘They were daring us to shoot from outside, and we weren’t going to score inside.’
Silver Creek shot 13 of 25 from the field, was one for six on threes and hit 16 of 27 from the charity stripe.
North Harrison 7 15 10 13 ‘ 45
Silver Creek 10 15 6 12 ‘ 43
North Harrison ‘ Nolot 15, Hinton 13, Burns 9, Burson 4, Nokes 2, J. Chiquito 1, Rennirt 1.
Silver Creek ‘ Scott 24, Barnett 6, Baxter 5, Polston 5, Mattingly 3.
3-point goals ‘ North Harrison 7 (Nolot 3, Hinton 2, Burns 2); Silver Creek 1 (Polston).