20-zip start ships NH by Austin
Exiting its previous game which gave North Harrison only its second defeat of the season, the Lady Cats had some kinks to work out.
Throughout the week leading up to facing Mid-Southern Conference-foe Austin, North Harrison was bound to fix the lapses from a one-point defeat at Seymour on Jan. 9.
On the receiving end of those adjustments was Austin. A blistering start to the game last Wednesday heavily tilted the momentum to the host Class 3A No. 7 Lady Cats.
Austin coach Jared Peterson burned through three time-outs during the opening quarter; none of which really slowed the Lady Cats. In the first five minutes of play, defense, offense, intensity, rebounding and transition play all were executed precisely by North Harrison.
The initial result of top-form play? A 20-0 start.
The end result versus Austin? A 64-42 win.
‘We wanted to improve upon from Seymour,’ North Harrison coach Missy Voyles said.
Five wins away from her 200th career coaching victory, Voyles pointed out the flaws versus Seymour:
‘Handling end-of-quarter situations.
‘Handling the final three minutes of regulation.
‘There were situations off the free-throw line where we weren’t in transition offense because we weren’t thinking,’ she said. ‘We’ve been working the last few days on being organized, knowing where you should be when the next thing happens.’
For a coach, seeing players react positively to teachings in practice and carry a better understanding to the next game can be pleasing. When the Lady Cats clicked in the first half against Austin, Voyles could, at times, sit back and watch.
‘I didn’t feel like I had to choreograph every move,’ Voyles said of North Harrison’s 18th victory. ‘They were talking and moving before I had to say anything. They were doing a better job of organizing themselves to start the game. They followed through on what we had been working on the last few days.’
Cali Nolot began the surge with a 3-point shot then scored easily in transition, beating Austin down the floor.
Hustling for an offensive rebound, Taylor Rennirt came away with an extra possession, resulting in post player Lilly Hatton scoring underneath. On the block, Hatton was joined by Jourdan McAfee; each converted old-fashioned 3-point plays, lofting the lead to 13-0.
Off the bench, Carlie Burson hit a short jumper, taking an assist from Rennirt. Although Rennirt didn’t score, she provided six assists on the night.
Steals by Jessicka Chiquito and McAfee let to points for Stevi Burns, prompting the 20-0 start.
‘We moved the ball really well and were rotating on defense,’ Voyles said of the 20-0 run. ‘We had a good energy level to start the game. It was all the way around. When we brought in subs, things didn’t change.’
Akaya Walker finally put Austin on the board with a challenged shot in the paint that fell through the net.
North Harrison ended the first half with 24-6 lead and dominated the glass 7-1 during that span. Austin also turned the rock over six times.
Putting a chink in the scoreboard, Austin began the second quarter on a 10-4 run. From beyond the arc, Kami Owens and Walker swished 3-pointers. For the game, Walker scored 15 points, all from the 3-point line.
Although Austin cut the score to 12, 28-16, North Harrison stormed back. Burson scored back-to-back field goals. Continuing to balance out scoring, Hallie Hinton, Chiquito, Burns and Nolot scored to close the first half. Execution on offense saw North Harrison lead the turnover battle 12-3. The Lady Cats had a 45-22 edge.
‘We actually ran our offense,’ Voyles said. ‘We don’t normally do that all the time. It was a pretty good balanced effort.’
Offensively, North Harrison didn’t keep up the same volume of scoring in the second half. Burns and Hinton made 3-pointers in the half, which saw the Lady Cats tally 19 additional points.
‘When you are winning by a lot coming out of halftime, it’s hard for them to stay focused and come out in the second half and hold the same kind of intensity,’ Voyles said. ‘I’m not giving them excuses, but sometimes that is hard to do. You’re almost tempted to not even go in at halftime. Stay out (on the floor) and not talk at all.’
Austin wasn’t able to gain much ground as the North Harrison defense continued to limit opportunities. Hatton closed the game with six blocked shots. She also led all scorers with 18 points and had seven rebounds.
‘She did a good job keeping them off the block,’ Voyles said of Hatton. ‘When she is caught out of position, she is getting better at just keeping two hands up and not giving up a foul. We don’t want to give up cheap fouls.’
Nolot and Burns also reached double-figure scoring with 13 and 11 points, respectively. Burson closed with eight points, while five each were scored by Hinton and Chiquito.
Important for the Lady Cats was staying unbeaten in league play. They sit at 6-0 with three games remaining. An MSC title has become a focal point as well.
‘We have three more to go, and we’re really excited about that,’ Voyles said. ‘It’s on our board in the locker room. There is a countdown. We’re marking them off as we win. It’s very much front and center.’
North Harrison played Corydon Central last night (Tuesday) and has one MSC game remaining, hosting Brownstown Central on Thursday, Jan. 28. Prior to the regular-season finale versus the Lady Braves, North Harrison will head to Madison on Tuesday.
Austin 6 16 9 11 ‘ 42
North Harrison 24 21 10 9 ‘ 64
Austin (11-7, 4-3) ‘ Owens 15, Walker 11, Brasher 6, Misamore 4, Coomer 4, Lee 2.
North Harrison (18-2, 6-0) ‘ Hatton 18, Nolot 13, Burns 11, Burson 8, Hinton 5, Chiquito 5, McAfee 3, Nokes 1.
3-point goals ‘ Austin 6 (Owens 5, Walker); North Harrison 5 (Burns 3, Nolot, Hinton).