NH seeks rivalry, again
Through the week of practice leading up to the annual rivalry contest between Corydon Central and North Harrison boys’ basketball teams, word around the Cougars’ camp was rekindling the rivalry.
Sure, there have been packed houses during the previous 18 meetings, but 16 of those times Corydon Central has left the victor.
‘We talked all week that rivalry games mean both teams have to win,’ a blunt Kevin Jones said. ‘They’ve won 16 of 18, so we haven’t been holding our end of the bargain. I told (our players) tonight, we are 0-0 in this rivalry. It doesn’t matter what happened in the past. We need to start a run.’
The message was taken by the Cougars, who wasted no time jumping out to a lead of 21 points in the first half. North Harrison had to hold off a furious third-quarter start by the Panthers to end the night up nine on the scoreboard, 72-63.
‘We fed off the energy of the crowd,’ North Harrison senior Alex Flock said. ‘We had a large student section, which was awesome. We wanted to ride the wave. We hit a rough spot in the third and early fourth, but we were able to get out of that funk.’
Corydon Central may have scored the first points of the game, on a Kurt Strubler field goal, but it was North Harrison that ripped off a 12-2 run to take a commanding lead.
Flock, who scored a game-best 21 points, benefited from shots from beyond the arc. He netted one then was fouled on another, sinking all three freebies.
Getting to the rim, North Harrison spark-plug guard Jake Book used a steal for a field goal, along with another attack through the paint.
‘We have definitely been looking forward to playing against Corydon since the end of last year,’ Flock said. ‘Our week of practice wasn’t very good, so we wanted to get out fast and make up for it. Jake pushed the ball for us to a good start.’
A few field goals by Corydon Central’s Clayton Schreck did little to slow the Cougars’ early offensive momentum. Flock closed the opening quarter swishing a jumper, giving the Cougars a 20-8 advantage.
‘We probably got caught a little bit in the atmosphere, standing and watching,’ Corydon Central coach Jamie Kolkmeier said. ‘We get passive sometimes. We have great kids, but they aren’t always energetic in what they are doing.’
Rebounding became an obvious advantage for North Harrison in the second stanza. Alex Eveslage had two offensive boards lead to a field goal of his own and one by Chandler Jenkins. Quickly getting inside the arc, Book found a way for four straight points, pressing the Cougars’ lead to 28-10 early in the second quarter.
North Harrison out-rebounded its foe 32-24. North Harrison had 10 offensive boards compared to five for the Panthers.
‘Corydon being the smaller team, with Jake Troxell at 6-4, I’m 6-1, Chandler 6-2, Eveslage 6-2, we knew we could crash the offensive glass,’ Flock said. ‘We really tried to get some easy ones inside.’
‘They are a talented team and capable of scoring a lot of points,’ Kolkmeier said of the Cougars. ‘We don’t do a very good job of rebounding the ball, and we’re letting too many layups when our help is not real good right now.’
Play started to somewhat even, but Corydon Central field goals were answered by Flock bombs.
Getting to the inside, Corydon Central went to Alec Saulman to shore up the scoring. The junior powered to a 19-point night, including six in the second quarter.
‘Alec is a competitive kid that plays strong,’ Kolkmeier said.
North Harrison’s largest lead expanded to 21 points, 40-19, when Eveslage put in a field goal.
‘In the first half, we passed the ball well,’ Jones said. ‘We made the extra passes when we needed to.’
Although down 40-21 at the half, Corydon Central came out on a mission to score points.
On Corydon Central’s first two possessions, Strubler and Schreck scored, prompting a quick Jones time-out.
During the break, the student sections from both schools put a number together, belting out a rendition of ‘Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer’ with the aid of the North Harrison band on the keys.
Corydon Central’s students, filled with Christmas elves, candy canes, Santa hats, sweaters and a green-faced Grinch, cheered on the Panthers’ rally.
Jordan Ripperdan, who was held scoreless in the first half, put in eight of his 14 points in the third quarter. His field goal was the last of a 7-0 Corydon Central start. Eveslage broke the run with a bucket inside. Sending the energy back to the packed blue side, Troxell benefited from an Eveslage touch pass for an old-fashioned 3-point play.
‘We didn’t guard well in the third, but they got hotter than a firecracker,’ Jones said. ‘They hit some shots when we had hands up.’
The third quarter was up and down from there with Corydon Central cutting the deficit to nine points, 51-42, with a Braydon Beauchamp field goal assisted by Ripperdan.
‘We played hard and got after it,’ Kolkmeier said of the second-half difference. ‘We didn’t always take great shots; we did take some hard ones. That’s probably why we went hot then a little bit cold. There was a stretch, our opportunity late, we missed a couple of shots in the paint.’
‘Our rotations are not good,’ Jones said. ‘In the first half, (Corydon Central) had 21 points, and I didn’t feel we played well defensively. Second half, how do you let a team that scored 21 in a half score 25 in a quarter? It was out of position and jumping to blocked shots. We aren’t good at recognizing when to gamble and when not.’
Three-point plays again extended the North Harrison lead. Jenkins had an and-one, then Flock’s final bomb prompted the Cougars’ students to fall to their seats.
Corydon Central freshman Bradley Nalley got going in the final quarter, scoring all seven of his points. His steal-and-score with 3:21 to play brought the Panthers within seven points, 64-57.
From there, Book came back off the bench after sitting for a period due to foul trouble to score, keeping the Cougars safely ahead.
‘Nine points isn’t what we were looking for, to be honest, but a win is a win, especially since it’s Corydon,’ Flock said of the final result. ‘They’ve had our number the last six or seven years it seems like. I’ll take the win.’
Flock made 4-of-9 3-pointers and went 7 of 9 at the foul line. The Panthers, meanwhile, missed all nine shot attempts from beyond the arc.
Book finished with 18 points and three steals. Jenkins was solid around the rim, tallying 16 points and six rebounds. He also had three assists.
‘(Book) feels he can get to the rim whenever, and maybe he can,’ Jones said. ‘We’re trying to get him to realize you aren’t going to get a layup every time. He’s still a sophomore and a work in progress, but we like his ability. He does 10 good things for every silly foul or bad shot.’
Troxell and Eveslage each had similar stat lines: eight points and six boards.
Jones said he still sees areas the Cougars need to improve upon.
‘I’m not happy how we played, but, big picture, we’re 3-0, which hasn’t been done very often in a while,’ he said. ‘If we want to compete in our conference, we have to guard better. We need to cut down on bad shots. There are a bunch of little things that, if we did them better, we’d be a lot better.’
Saulman was a force inside for Corydon Central, leading with 19 points and seven rebounds. He took advantage at the foul line as well, making 7-of-10 free throws. Ripperdan went on to close with 14 points, while Schreck added 13.
‘We’re giving up way too many points,’ Kolkmeier said. ‘I can’t remember giving up nearly 140 points in two games … We have to buckle down on teams.’
North Harrison has two games upcoming: Friday at Silver Creek and Saturday hosting Orleans. The Panthers, meanwhile, will head to Boonville on Saturday. All three varsity games tip at 7:30 p.m.
Corydon Central 8 13 25 17 ‘ 63
North Harrison 20 20 19 13 ‘ 72
Corydon Central (0-2, 0-1 MSC) ‘ Saulman 19, Ripperdan 14, Schreck 13, Nalley 7, Beauchamp 6, Strubler 4.
North Harrison (3-0, 1-0) ‘ Flock 21, Book 18, Jenkins 16, Troxell 8, Eveslage 8, Kaiser 1.
3-point goals ‘ North Harrison 4 (Flock 4).