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Defense a hit for Cougars

Defense a hit for Cougars
Defense a hit for Cougars
North Harrison's Skyler Wetzel floats toward the goal for a lay-up try against South Central on a fast break last Tuesday. Photo by Brian Smith

It wasn’t the cleanest of games on the offensive end for North Harrison, but the season debut hosting South Central featured plenty of defensive pressure.
The Cougars forced South Central into nine first-half turnovers and kept the speed of the game in an up-tempo pace. Holding the Rebels to eight points during the first two quarters, North Harrison had a commanding 32-8 lead at the break.
South Central increased its offensive out-put in the second half but couldn’t keep pace with the Cougars. The season debut for both squads went to North Harrison, 64-31.
‘We have some scrappy kids,’ North Harrison coach Kevin Jones said. ‘I thought, defensively in the first half, we were outstanding. We pressured the ball and really rebounded.’
On the glass, North Harrison out-rebounded South Central 25-5 in the first 16 minutes of play.
‘I think we played hard,’ South Central coach Greg Robinson said. ‘We lost sight of some things we needed to do: blocking out shots, over-committing on the defensive end. It’s areas we can fix. I can’t complain about the effort because it was there. We have a lot of work to do on offense, and the kids know that, too.’
It was the first game back on the South Central sidelines for Robinson, his last coming in 2006. He took over a Rebels’ team coming off a one-win season.
‘It’s hard to be happy about a game that ends the way this one ended, but there is some things we can build on,’ Robinson said. ‘It’s a process. We have to find things we did well ‘ and there were some ‘ and keep doing them well.’
Going to the glass landed North Harrison its first points of the contest. Jake Troxell cleaned up a miss and scored inside. From beyond the arc, Jake Book swished a 3-pointer for a 5-0 North Harrison lead.
South Central’s first points of the season came from Chase Schoen, who scored off a press break a tad more than three minutes into the contest.
The lead continued to extend for North Harrison as Quinn Kaiser, Trevor Haub and Troxell scored baskets. South Central interrupted with points via Brandon Summers and Cody Baelz.
A steal-and-score from Book prompted a 16-6 end to the first quarter with the score in favor of the host Cougars.
North Harrison mixed a man defense with a pressing style in the back-court to disrupt the Rebels.
‘When we struggle to score, we’re going to rely on the press to create easy scores,’ Jones said. ‘It did at times tonight, but we fouled too much. It’s the first game, so we’ll have to adjust and keep our hands off people a little more.’
South Central mustered up two points in the second quarter, both by way of free throws. The Rebels’ defense, however, did keep North Harrison off the board for the first two minutes of the frame.
‘North Harrison is a good team,’ Robinson said. ‘We weren’t going to dominate things defensively, but I thought we were able to bother them at times. We kept their scoring down a little bit. If we would have picked up some rebounds, hit some layups and free throws, the game at halftime would have been a lot different. We struggled in that area last year.’
North Harrison, meanwhile, used put-backs to extend the lead. Skyler Wetzel generated four points. Zane Armstrong came off the bench to hit a jumper, all part of a 16-0 North Harrison run to end the opening half.
‘We weren’t great offensively tonight,’ Jones said. ‘We missed too many bunnies, had careless turnovers and missed too many free throws. But that 1-3-1 (South Central defense) is hard for your first game to simulate. It’s something we don’t play very often. Greg coaches that defense really well.’
Jones lauded the effort of his players for hitting the floor for many balls.
‘The first half, every rebound was ours, and we got a lot of 50-50 balls,’ Jones said. ‘We turned them over, but we also had a lot of turnovers in the first half. It’s an adjustment playing against that zone. We hope to have a little more even offensive effort against Heritage Hills.’
South Central came out hitting from beyond the arc in the second half. Austin Schoen and Summers buried triples to cut the deficit to 20, 34-14.
Wetzel, the team leader in scoring with 16 points, was a spark off the bench. He knocked down a 3-pointer to counter the mini-Rebels’ rally.
South Central won the third quarter, 13-12, but continued to trail by 23.
‘The second half is a little more indicative of what we can do,’ Robinson said. ‘We were a little nervous. The press bothered us in a different way. A lot of our turnovers weren’t just from their press; it was because they made us go fast. We didn’t do a good job controlling the tempo of the game. We are young. We have a sophomore and junior point guard that are both learning. We will get better.’
In the scoring column, North Harrison had 11 players register points. Trevor Haub accounted for 10 points as well. Book, who was saddled with foul trouble and eventually exited the game when he picked up his fifth, scored eight points.
The guard depth for North Harrison proved beneficial with Haub and Wetzel adding scoring to their contributions.
‘Kuerzi can come in if Jake Book goes out,’ Jones said. ‘Zane Armstrong did a good job tonight when he came in that plays as hard as anyone in the program. We have a bunch of guys that can go out and pick up slack handling the ball when we need to.’
Troxell scored seven points and had the same number of rebounds.
Chase Schoen led South Central in scoring with nine points. Baelz added eight.
North Harrison will hit the road Friday to face rival Corydon Central at 7:30 p.m. South Central is off until Saturday when the Rebels will host South Spencer at 8 p.m.

South Central 6 2 13 10 ‘ 31
North Harrison 16 16 12 20 ‘ 64
South Central (0-1) ‘ C. Schoen 9, Baelz 8, Summers 6, A. Schoen 3, Wibbels 3, Logsdon 1, Stewart 1.
North Harrison (1-0) ‘ Wetzel 16, Haub 10, Book 8, Troxell 7, Flock 6, Harmon 4, Kuerzi 3, Armstrong 3, Davis 3, Kaiser 2, Jenkins 2.
3-point goals ‘ South Central 3 (C. Schoen, Summers, A. Schoen); North Harrison 5 (Haub 2, Book, Kuerzi, Armstrong).