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Pioneers snare Cougars, 55-46

Pioneers snare Cougars, 55-46
Pioneers snare Cougars, 55-46
North Harrison senior Alex Flock (20) and Providence's Eli Coker fight for a loose ball in the second half of the Cougars' 55-46 loss. Photo by Wade Bell

One bad quarter can mean the difference between winning and losing, and that’s what happened with the North Harrison Cougars Friday night in their road trip to Providence. In this game, it was the second quarter that bit the Cougars, who fell into the Pioneers’ snare for a 55-46 loss.
‘They’re a good team,’ North Harrison coach Kevin Jones said. ‘They played New Albany tough down the stretch. They’re very physical. They defend as well as anybody we’ve played.
‘That second quarter, if we could have got a couple of more shots to fall and got to the free-throw line a couple of more times, we might have had a chance. But that second quarter against a good team like this on the road was just too much to dig ourselves out of.’
The first quarter was mostly made up of long-range artillery, with the Pioneers putting up three shots from behind the arc and North Harrison drilling two. Justin Betz, who put up two of the Providence threes, added a deuce in the paint for a 13-9 Pioneer lead. North Harrison came back from the inside, as Alex Flock and Quinn Kaiser scored to tie the game at 13 after one quarter.
Then came the second quarter, where everything that could go wrong did for the Cougars. North Harrison missed every one of its seven shots from the field. The Cougars also turned the ball over five times.
The Pioneers made an 18-2 run over North Harrison, with the Cougars’ only points coming from a pair of Chandler Jenkins free throws. The Cougars suddenly found themselves down 31-15 at halftime.
‘Our shot selection wasn’t as good as it should have been, and we didn’t hit any shots,’ Jones said. ‘We’ve got shot-makers. Sometimes we take bad ones and they go in. It kind of masks that it was a bad shot. Well, tonight, when we took bad shots, it did not go in. The way they defend and get after it, it kind of ended up taking a toll on us. We couldn’t get any offense going. We had two free throws the whole quarter. That’s all we could get going.’
Jones also said the Pioneers got too many second and third chances from offensive rebounds.
‘That’s kind of been our Achilles heel all year,’ he said. ‘We’ve lost too many chances. One time, we had it down to 10 or 12 ‘ If we could have raced down the floor and got a basket or a three, or a three-point play or something, we might have been able to get a bit of a run going.’
North Harrison fought to pull back into the game, and Jenkins took it upon himself to do some damage. He scored the first points of the second half with a long deuce. Providence countered with a three, but Jake Book and Jenkins put together a 9-3 run, pulling North Harrison to within 10, 37-27. The Pioneers gained some ground at the end of the quarter, as Betz got a pair of freebies for a 41-29 lead.
Eli Coker hit a three for the Pioneers for a 44-29 lead to begin the fourth quarter. Flock brought the game back to 10 with a pair of threes. It was only at the end of the game that the Cougars cut their deficit back to single digits, as the Pioneers came away with the 55-46 win.
‘They want to slow it down and play defense,’ Jones said. ‘One time, we had it to 10, and they ran about two minutes off the clock. You get in that situation, where you play that bad for one quarter, you’re putting yourself behind the eight ball. They’re fine with running a minute or two off. They’ve got good ball handlers and take care of the basketball.’
‘Other than the second quarter, I thought we played three pretty good quarters,’ Jones said. ‘The bad thing was the second quarter was so bad we just dug ourselves too big of a hole.’
Jenkins led the Cougars with 14 points, and Flock hit for 13. North Harrison canned 17 of 39 shots (44 percent) and five of seven free throws. The Cougars had nine turnovers.
‘We wanted to try to get it down to 10 to start the fourth quarter to give us a chance,’ Jones said. ‘We got it to 10, and they scored the last minute to get it to 12. In the fourth quarter, we held pretty steady. We just wanted to compete. I do think my kids did a good job of playing hard to the end of the game. I told them, ‘You’re not always going to play well. We can deal, when we don’t play well. But what you can control is how hard you play and what attitude you play with.’ Those are things I thought we did a pretty good job of.’
Juston Betz led the Pioneers with 17 points, and Griffin Libs finished with 13. Coker added 11 points for Providence, who hit 17 of 35 field-goal attempts (49 percent) and 16 of 24 free throws. The Pioneers had just seven turnovers.
‘I told them we were to the point where we’ve got three more games and the tournament, we are not good enough to where we can afford a bad quarter like that,’ Jones said. ‘So, we’re just going to try to play in the next couple of weeks 16 more good quarters of basketball to try to get to 20 more quarters of good basketball. That’s all we can do going forward.’
‘We’re a good team,’ he said. ‘I think we’ve proved that. All we wanted to do this year was be competitive and win some games. I think we’ve proved that, and I think we’re headed in the direction. Our young kids are stepping up. Our freshmen and sophomore group we’re really high on. They’ve had an outstanding JV basketball season and they’ve played good varsity minutes when they’ve been called on. So, we feel good about where we’re heading.’

North Harrison 13 2 14 17 ‘ 46
Providence 13 18 10 14 ‘ 55
North Harrison ‘ A. Flock 13, Troxell 3, Jenkins 14, Book 8, Kaiser 5, Eveslage 3
Providence ‘ Betz 17, Coker 11, Conrad 6, Morris 1, Sprigler 2, Byerley 5, Libs 13
3-point goals ‘ North Harrison 6 (A. Flock 3, Book 2, Jenkins); Providence 5. (Betz 2, Coker, Conrad, Libs).