Powerful third lofts NH past Crawford
The North Harrison girls’ basketball team overpowered the visiting Crawford County Lady Pack last Tuesday night in their annual rivalry game, but the battle that ensued was tougher than the score might indicate. It took 2-1/2 quarters for the Lady Cats to finally pull away in their 71-42 win, keeping their record unblemished after their first five games.
‘Crawford, they get a little better every year, and they’re physical and they don’t back down and they’re competitive,’ North Harrison coach Missy Voyles said. ‘They played us well last year. It took us a long time to wear them down last year. It took us a long time to wear them down tonight. They’re a good ball club. (Crawford County coach) Chris (Broughton) does a good job.’
‘North Harrison is a great team,’ Broughton said. ‘The (Lily) Hatton girl is going to be a fantastic player. The young kids around her are going to be fantastic. You’re going to look at the end of the year and see their record and it’s going to raise a lot of eyebrows.’
North Harrison went straight to the paint to start the game and took a 6-1 lead early. The Lady Pack’s Jenny Jellison scored on a jumper, but North Harrison’s Cali Nolot countered with a three-ball. Crawford County’s Addy Simpson then went on a run of her own, taking the ball inside three times, to cut the Lady Cats’ lead to two, 11-9, forcing Voyles to call a timeout. Both teams missed shots in the last minute and a half until Hatton scored two from the charity stripe for a four-point edge.
Hatton scored the first two points of the second period, but Carley Allen countered in the paint for the Lady Pack. Carlie Burson scored twice for North Harrison. Courtney Puckett buried a three for Crawford County to keep the Lady Pack within five. North Harrison scored the next six, but, in the final seconds, Simpson put in a pair of freebies, keeping the Lady Pack within single digits, 25-16, at halftime.
‘We switched defenses a few times, and I made some misses,’ Voyles said. ‘We got lost some times on what we were supposed to be doing.’
Broughton said Simpson attacking the basket kept his team in the game.
‘She got the ball, and we told her, ‘Let’s not worry about trying to break their press. Let’s get the ball and get it to you, and let’s get you going downhill’,’ he said. ‘That’s what she did. She started attacking the basket.’
‘She got down the middle a few more times than I would have liked to have seen … ,’ Voyles said.
Jourdan McAfee was the go-to girl for the Lady Cats to begin the second half as the North Harrison senior scored six points of an 8-2 run that saw the Lady Cats take a 33-18 lead.
Crawford County kept North Harrison from gaining any more ground and tightened up the game, with Allen and Jellison going downtown around a Hatton deuce-and-one and Jellison adding a deuce for good measure to close the North Harrison advantage to 10, 38-28.
The Lady Cats, however, finally gapped Crawford County in the last few minutes of the period with an 11-4 run to hold a 51-33 advantage with one quarter remaining.
North Harrison began the fourth quarter with a 10-2 run, with Taylor Rennirt and McAfee sinking threes in the run. From there, Crawford County never recovered, and the Lady Cats went on to post a 71-42 win, improving their record to 5-0.
‘We simplified things a little more the second half and consistently did the same thing,’ Voyles said. ‘Switching defenses is supposed to confuse the other team, not your own.’
‘The final score is not going to be a final indication of how the game was,’ Broughton said. ‘All I can do is ask my kids to battle. I tell you what, every game this year they’ve came and battled with me. We knew it was going to be a tough start. We played Cannelton the first game at home, and we knew what kind of game that was going to be. It was a good win for us, but we knew we weren’t going to get much out of it.
‘Then, we’ve had four tough road games … To come out of this battle-tested, there was plenty of times we could have quit, but, you know what, it went to 15 and we cut it to 10. It went back to 15 and we cut it to 11. That’s all I can ask out of them.’
Hatton led the winners with 19 points, and Rennirt followed with 14. McAfee had 13 points for the Lady Cats, who canned 27 of 59 field-goal attempts (45 percent) and 12 of 17 free throws. North Harrison had just 12 turnovers.
‘We’re trying to make sure we make a good shot and not a quick shot every trip down the floor,’ Voyles said. ‘I think we did a better job of taking good shots and not so many quick shots. We did a better job of working for a good shot. That’s improvement. … We did a good job high-low with our bigs and did a good job finding them.’
‘They’re such a good transition team,’ Broughton said. ‘She’s got eight kids she can run in and out. It keeps her kids really fresh. We played six or seven kids, and it makes a big difference, especially when she’s running in athletes and good basketball players. We were physically and mentally fatigued, not that that’s any excuse, but I think that had a lot to do with it.’
Simpson, a freshman, led the Lady Pack with 16 points, and Jellison finished with 11. Allen had a 10-point night. Crawford County downed 15 of 40 field-goal attempts (37 percent) and seven of 11 free throws. Turnovers were a problem, with the Lady Pack committing 23.
‘I thought she went up strong on all of them,’ Broughton said of Simpson attacking the basket. ‘She’s going to get some calls and she’s not going to get some calls. She did not let that affect her game at all. She didn’t get discouraged by going inside. She has to keep doing that.’
North Harrison may be undefeated, but Voyles said there are still several things her team has to get much better at with much tougher games down the road.
‘Our defensive rotation is not very good right now,’ she said. ‘We need to get a little better on ball reversal, rotating our match-up, defense more than offense … We’re getting better at passing to the post; we’ll keep working on that.’
The Crawford County coach said there have been lessons learned from all of its games that will help them through the remainder of the season.
‘It’s been close over time, and, hopefully, we should be able to take something away from each game,’ Broughton said. ‘We’ve had games, like at (Eastern) Pekin, where it was extremely physical. I don’t think we’ve let teams out-physical us since that game. At Salem, we didn’t come ready to play. We came out flat.
‘But ever since Salem, we haven’t come out that way. At Henryville, we let one slip away at the end. Time will tell if that’s going to happen again, but I think we learned something from it. Tonight, we … just ran into a good basketball team. Sometimes you have to tip your hat to the other side … ‘
Crawford County 9 7 17 9 ‘ 42
North Harrison 13 12 26 20 ‘ 71
Crawford County (1-4) ‘ Puckett 3, Simpson 16, Allen 10, Jellison 11, Schwartz 2.
North Harrison (5-0) ‘ Rennirt 14, Nolot 8, Burson 7, Hatton 19, McAfee 13, Nokes 1, Chiquito 2, Burns 7.
3-point goals ‘ Crawford County 5 (Allen 2, Puckett, Simpson, Jellison); North Harrison 5 (Nolot 2, Rennirt, McAfee, Burns).