Lady Cats chain up Lady Bulldogs
The North Harrison Lady Cats basketball team earned themselves a three-day pass Thursday night when they held off a challenge by visiting New Albany in front of a big crowd for a 51-48 win. The top-ranked 3A Lady Cats were ready to take a little time off after a brutal first part of the season.
‘I said if we win, you’re off for three days,’ North Harrison coach Missy Voyles said. ‘We can motivate them with two things: one, don’t practice, and, two, food. Other than that, nothing else really works seems to me. We can run them; that doesn’t (work). The negative motivation doesn’t seem to matter to them. It’s ‘Don’t make us practice’ and ‘Feed us.’ Those are the two things that seem to make them really happy. It really excites them.’
‘Partially because of the Hall of Fame (game), I can’t give them much time off at Christmas so I’m trying to give them a few days,’ she said. ‘We played at Jasper Tuesday night. They’re tired and then, coming into tonight to play against New Albany, that’s tough, being on the road that far away and then coming back here and play on Thursday.’
The game began as expected with the two teams swapping the lead back and forth through the early part of the first period. The Lady Cats later gave themselves a little breathing room with Taylor Rennirt drilling a three-ball. New Albany fought back to close the game to three, but the Lady Cats’ 6-1 sophomore center Lilly Hatton drilled a three from the right side for a 17-11 North Harrison lead. Marissa Jones got one of those back from the charity stripe, and New Albany’s deficit was five, 17-12, after one quarter.
Rennirt and Cali Nolot kept the Lady Bulldogs in check through the first half of the second period, then Hatton scored inside to put North Harrison up by eight, 29-21. Kelsey Taylor scored for New Albany. Julyen Condra later added a freebie, and the Lady Cats took a 29-24 lead to the locker room at halftime.
‘We wanted to spread them out and get some isolation,’ Voyles said of the plan against New Albany. ‘We really wanted to pressure them a little bit and see if we could hurry them a little more, and I thought we did a good job of that in the second half.’
Voyles said Nolot played a big part of keeping North Harrison out front in the second period.
‘Cali had a great second quarter,’ Voyles said. ‘She went into a little lull there for a little bit and, when you needed her again, she kind of came back to you. You need to keep her on that roll for an entire game. That’s why you’ve got three kids out there that can score for you. I think I’ve got five kids that can score, but you’ve got three that have your go-to moments. If one’s not scoring, the other one is.’
New Albany rallied back in the third quarter, tying the game at 32. Rennirt and Nolot were there again with a combined 5-point burst to lead 37-32, forcing New Albany to call timeout with 2:09 to go in the period. Taylor and Nolot traded baskets, but Taylor finished out the period with a pair of free throws to close the gap to three, 39-36, with eight minutes left in the game.
Rennirt and Hatton pushed North Harrison’s lead back to seven to begin the final period. New Albany turned the ball over twice, but the Lady Cats failed to convert. Hatton picked up her fourth foul with 6:11 to go in the game but stayed out of trouble to cash in a pair of free throws to keep North Harrison’s lead at seven.
‘It was an aggressive game, and I thought it was sloppy on both sides,’ Voyles said. ‘You’ve got two teams that match up pretty well.’
The Lady Bulldogs still had a run in them and rallied back. North Harrison turned the ball over twice and missed a pair of deuces that opened up the door for New Albany, which converted a 5-0 run to close the gap to one, 45-44. Nolot hit two free throws, but Chyna Anthony scored inside and Taylor got two from the stripe to give the Lady Bulldogs their first lead of the game, 48-47.
Hatton scored inside, and North Harrison quickly called timeout with 39.9 seconds left. New Albany turned the ball over, and Jones was called for a New Albany foul. Hallie Hinton got one of two for a 50-48 lead.
New Albany missed a three, then Hatton was fouled. The sophomore got one of the two freebies. New Albany got a three off at the end but it fell short, and the Lady Cats had their 14th straight regular-season win and improved their record to 9-0 for the season.
‘It was intense,’ Voyles said. ‘We haven’t played a lot of close games. It’s good to play some good, close games. We saw some definite weaknesses we need to work on. Just being able to execute under pressure and get where we belong on offense and be able to execute an offense. When you’re playing somebody that’s athletic and quick and make you do other things to be able to execute your offense.’
Hatton led the Lady Cats with 19 for the game, and Nolot followed with 17 on the night. Rennirt added 11 for North Harrison, which hit 16 of 48 field goals (33 percent) and 17 of 24 free throws. The Lady Cats had 11 turnovers for the game.
Voyles said Hatton needs to learn how to read how the officials are going to call a game to avoid the foul problems she found herself in against the Lady Bulldogs.
‘I think Lilly learns that you have to go with what your officials are doing,’ the North Harrison coach said. ‘Some officials let post play go a little more aggressively, and some don’t. She’s got to read what the officials are doing. You’ve got to adapt your game to the officials.’
Voyles said, too, that Rennirt was able to get in for some scoring while New Albany focused on Hatton.
‘She’s played well for us all year,’ Voyles said of the junior. ‘She’s averaging 10 points a game also, and I don’t think people notice that. All the press usually goes around Lilly, but Taylor’s had a heck of a year.’
Taylor and Earlean Davis led the Lady Bulldogs with 13 each, and Condra put in 11 on the night. New Albany connected on 15 of its 42 field-goal attempts (35 percent) and 10 of 17 free throws. The Lady Bulldogs finished with 15 turnovers during the 32 minutes.
Meanwhile, the Lady Cats were looking forward to their three days away from the court.
‘They were super excited about three days off,’ Voyles said. ‘We haven’t had a day off. They love to not practice. They were super excited about that before the game.’
New Albany 12 12 12 12 ‘ 48
North Harrison 17 12 10 12 ‘ 51
New Albany ‘ Condra 11, Douglas 2, Anthony 4, Jones 3, Davis 13, Pinkston 2, Taylor 13
North Harrison ‘ Rennirt 11, Hatton 19, Hinton 1, Nolot 17, Nokes 1, Burns 2
3-point goals ‘ New Albany 2 (Davis 2); North Harrison 4 (Nolot 2, Rennirt, Hatton).