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Steal, FT sends Lady Cats by Jeff

Steal, FT sends Lady Cats by Jeff
Steal, FT sends Lady Cats by Jeff
Colliding near the foul line, North Harrison's Hallie Hinton steals an inbound pass intended for Jeffersonville's Jhala Henry with less than five seconds to play Friday night. The turnover led to Hinton going to the foul line to make a game-winning free throw. Photos by Brian Smith

Popcorn was in high demand in the concourse.
The basketball action through the doors to the North Harrison High School gymnasium had the feel of February on a cool, early November Friday night.
Tied at 48 in the closing seconds, North Harrison’s Hallie Hinton was whistled for a charge under the basket, leaving 4.9 ticks for visiting Jeffersonville to take a shot at winning.
Hinton, however, didn’t have overtime or a Lady Devils’ triumph on her mind. Out of a Jeffersonville time-out, a sideline inbounds pass from near the North Harrison bench saw Hinton beat Jhala Henry to the ball.
Stealing the pass, Hinton put up a shot attempt while getting fouled, sending the sophomore to the line.
After missing the first, Hinton swished the second with 1.1 seconds left. A three-quarter court heave by Jeffersonville’s Jacinta Gibson hit the square on the backboard but rattled off the rim. A collective gasp by the blue-and-white crowd quickly turned to jubilation as North Harrison knocked off the Hoosier Hills Conference team, 49-48.
‘We were mentally tough at the end,’ North Harrison coach Missy Voyles said. ‘I can’t say that about the beginning, but certainly at the end.’
North Harrison had a four-point lead, 48-44, with one minute to play. Jeffersonville rallied with Jacinta Gibson free throws and a Jaelyn Lee field goal underneath.
Despite the rally, Hinton said her team didn’t want to lose. During the time-out before the final steal, the plan was to force overtime.
‘Coach Voyles told us not to foul and play soft press,’ Hinton said. ‘The best thing we wanted was to get this thing into overtime. We didn’t want to do that, obviously … We had three seconds left when I got the ball, so I figured I might as well try this. We have nothing else to lose.’
Hinton came up with the single freebie to send the Lady Cats to 2-0 on the young season. The last win over the Lady Devils was in 2011. Revenge was a factor as well, with Jeffersonville taking last year’s game in another tight one, 48-43.
‘Hallie reads well,’ Voyles said of her guard’s defensive ability. ‘I saw her a couple of times come flying out of nowhere to pick off passes. She’s a good one to have in that position, and I’m glad she chose that side of the floor at that particular moment.’
North Harrison needed a mini rally in the fourth quarter to put pressure on Jeffersonville. Talented senior Taylor Sykes put the Lady Devils up 37-32 with a made field goal.
Spreading the offense out, North Harrison’s Cali Nolot drove to the hoop for two points, then Hinton dished to Carlie Burson to finish underneath.
Sykes put down a triple and finished with a game-high 18 points before fouling out with 58 seconds to play.
‘(Sykes) has been tough on us every year,’ Voyles said. ‘I am so excited to see her graduate and go on to have a great career in college somewhere else. She knocks down big shots against me every year. We lost her a few times, and that’s our youth. We don’t recognize shooters as well as we need to.’
North Harrison scored the next five points, beginning with a pair of freebies by Lilly Hatton. Working inside-out, Nolot kicked to Taylor Rennirt for a 3-pointer, giving the Lady Cats a 41-40 lead.
Another Hatton basket put North Harrison up four points, but those were answered by four straight by Jeffersonville.
Breaking a 44-all tie, Nolot scored, then Rennirt hit 2 of 4 free throws. As Jeffersonville rallied in the final minute, Hinton ended the come-back hopes with the steal and score.
‘I expected this to be a slug-fest, a very physical game,’ Voyles said. ‘It was helter skelter because we match up so well with one another. It’s a similar style.’
Three players fouled out between the teams, including Jeffersonville freshman center Chelsea Gibson. Mainly defended by another freshman 6-foot-1 post player, Hatton, Gibson was held scoreless.
‘We did a nice job on Gibson to hold her scoreless inside,’ Voyles said. ‘That’s big. Lilly did a good job against her.’
North Harrison began the game on a 6-0 run paced by a 3-point play by Stevi Burns.
The lead didn’t last long. The final 5:15 of the opening quarter saw Jeffersonville outscore the host 16-6 to lead 16-12 at the break.
‘I thought we played rattled in the first half, and then we handled the pressure better in the second,’ Voyles said.
Jessicka Chiquito came in and knocked down a left-side trey to get the Lady Cats on track in the second quarter. She put in a pair of long balls in the first half before leaving in the later half with an injury.
‘Jess is hurt but, when she came in, she was phenomenal,’ Voyles said. ‘At that moment in the second quarter, when we were struggling to score, she knocked down a 3.’
North Harrison forced eight turnovers in the second quarter but went in to the half down one, 23-22.
The physical play showed in the third with Rennirt going out momentarily with a shot to the head and Chiquito heading to the sideline.
‘In the end, we had our pro wrestlers on the floor,’ Voyles said. ‘We had our most physical kids out there. Some kids are more finesse, but we had the kids out there that could take a blow and give a blow.’
The second half was back and forth, setting up the postseason-like finish.
‘We didn’t start the way we wanted to, but we came out in the second half with a better mindset,’ Hinton said. ‘We were trying to get more efficient shots in the second half. We wanted to look toward our post and, to be honest, stop being stupid with the ball.’
Hatton led a balanced scoring attack for North Harrison with 10 points to go with seven rebounds. Rennirt closed with nine points, while Nolot contributed eight. Burson added seven points, and Jourdan McAfee had six boards. Rennirt also had four assists and three steals.
‘Rennirt practiced well all this week,’ Voyles said. ‘She’s trying to get back after volleyball. I’ve been on her all this week about being more aggressive because she hasn’t been looking for her shot. Taylor is one of those kids that, if she’s not shooting well, she’s not going to shoot. She gained some confidence in the second half.’
Both teams shot 35 percent from the field. Outside of Sykes’ 18 points, Jaelyn Lee tallied 11.
‘We lost to (Jeffersonville) last year, so this is a good starting point for us,’ Hinton said. ‘I’m really excited for this season. We have a lot going for us.’
The Lady Cats (2-0) will hit the road Friday (at Eastern Pekin) and Saturday (at Charlestown) for early season Mid-Southern Conference tilts. Tips for both games is 7:30 p.m.

Jeffersonville 16 7 12 13 ‘ 48
North Harrison 12 10 10 17 ‘ 49
Jeffersonville (0-1) ‘ Sykes 18, Lee 11, Lilly 7, Lacy 6, J. Gibson 4, Handley 2.
North Harrison (2-0) ‘ Hatton 10, Rennirt 9, Nolot 8, Burson 7, Chiquito 6, Hinton 5, Burns 3, McAfee 1.
3-point goals ‘ Jeffersonville 3 (Sykes 3); North Harrison 4 (Chiquito 2, Rennirt, Hinton).