15 steals press Lady Cats over Eastern; start 2-0 in MSC
Boarding the bus and hitting the road for the first time during the young basketball season, the North Harrison girls’ never trailed at Eastern (Pekin) Friday night.
Holding the edge on the scoreboard was enough for the Lady Cats to begin Mid-Southern Conference play with a 54-48 victory over the Lady Musketeers. The triumph came on a night North Harrison forced 23 Eastern turnovers, including 15 steals. The 15 swipes stuff the stat sheet nicely despite North Harrison dealing with foul trouble much of the final three quarters.
‘We were kind of up and down today,’ North Harrison coach Missy Voyles said.
The up was early.
Inside the first two minutes, Eastern coughed the ball up six times while putting up just one field goal.
Transferring to the offensive end, North Harrison went up 7-0. Jourdan McAfee hit a jumper. Taylor Rennirt swung a pass to Carlie Burson in the post for a field goal. To reach 7-0, Lilly Hatton pulled up for a 3-pointer from the top of the key.
Eastern came back with field goals by Destinee Mattix and Rachel Stewart, but it was North Harrison that ended the opening quarter on a hot streak.
McAfee put in a pair of buckets. She later provided an assist to Jessicka Chiquito, who sank a long ball. In the final few minutes, Cali Nolot attacked the rim, drawing fouls to reach the line. She made good on all four free-throw attempts to give the Lady Cats a 18-7 edge after eight minutes.
By midway through the second quarter, North Harrison had built its lead to 15, 27-12. Stevi Burns had two field goals, and Nolot put down a trey.
As the first half closed, North Harrison struggled from the field. Eastern’s Bailey England, along with Stewart, started to get going. Stewart slipped inside the paint to score two field goals on put-backs. England, meanwhile, put in a triple.
The 10-point swing cut North Harrison’s lead to five, 30-25, at the break.
‘We went on a span where we weren’t hitting outside shots and we weren’t trying to get inside shots,’ Voyles said. ‘That’s a bad combination.’
Adjustments were made at the half, prompting the Lady Cats to create better looks inside. Hatton finished underneath, followed by Burson ripping off seven straight points. The senior had two field goals and three freebies.
‘They were big in the second half,’ Voyles said of the inside play. ‘We needed some baskets, and they got some good shots. We did a good job reversing the ball to get the ball to them.’
The Lady Cats had to deal with whistles and fouls assessed against them but managed to keep their defensive intensity up. Rennirt entered the second half with three fouls, while Hatton had four with two minutes remaining the third quarter.
‘Considering how bad we were in foul trouble, I think we did a good job pressuring the ball,’ Voyles said.
Eastern, behind a triple by Stewart, cut North Harrison’s lead to seven, 41-34, heading into the fourth quarter. Stewart led all scorers with 22 points.
North Harrison extended its lead to nine in the final quarter. After missing the front end of two bonuses, Eastern had a chance with one minute to play to get the game to one possession. Up 49-44, McAfee didn’t allow it to happen, picking off her team-high sixth steal of the game.
During the final 55 seconds, North Harrison went 5 of 8 at the charity stripe while Eastern made two field goals.
‘We did shoot the ball well and we didn’t shoot it well late, from the free-throw line,’ Voyles said. ‘We went on a span where we weren’t shooting the ball well, but, we came back and regrouped and went for higher percentage shots.’
Burson made four field goals, leading the Lady Cats in scoring with 12 points. Nolot scored nine points, while Hatton and McAfee had seven each.
From the line, North Harrison was 17 of 24. Hallie Hinton pulled five rebounds, with teammates McAfee and Burson snagging four each. Rennirt had three steals.
Voyles said her team will continue to seek ways to attack a half-court zone when outside shots aren’t falling, similar to the second quarter.
‘We talked about how you look wide open at the 3-point line, but you also have some good opportunities to drive out of that,’ she said. ‘You can penetrate the zone. We had good opportunities to do that, and we didn’t at times.’
Improving their record to 4-0, and 2-0 in league play, the Lady Cats defeated Charlestown 46-29 on the road Saturday.
Holding Charlestown scoreless in the final quarter benefited the winners. Hatton led a balanced scoring attack, putting in 11 points. Rennirt had eight, while Hinton scored seven. Bri Harvey led Charlestown with 13 points.
North Harrison will travel Saturday to Scottsburg for another MSC tilt set to start at 7:30 p.m. The Lady Cats return home Wednesday, Nov. 25, to face off against Silver Creek at 7:30 p.m.
North Harrison 18 12 11 13 ‘ 54
Eastern (Pekin) 7 18 9 14 ‘ 48
North Harrison (3-0, 1-0 MSC) ‘ Burson 12, Nolot 9, Hatton 7, McAfee 7, Burns 6, Rennirt 5, Hinton 3, Chiquito 3, Nokes 2.
Eastern (Pekin) (1-1, 0-1) ‘ Stewart 22, England 13, Martin 5, Drury 4, Mattix 4.
3-point goals ‘ North Harrison 3 (Nolot, Hatton, Chiquito); Eastern 4 (England 3, Stewart).