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NH overcomes charity stripe woes, tops Eagles

NH overcomes charity stripe woes, tops Eagles
NH overcomes charity stripe woes, tops Eagles
North Harrison's Skyler Wetzel looks for a way around Lanesville's Gregory Daly in the first half. Wetzel finished with 18 points in North Harrison's 64-60 win Friday. Photo by Wade Bell

The Cougars battled the Eagles Friday night at the North Harrison gymnasium as Lanesville came in for a visit that proved to be a hard-fought game for both teams. For the Cougars, it was a night of surviving horrendous shooting from the charity stripe, while Lanesville just couldn’t find enough conversions to make up the difference, falling to the Cougars in a 64-60 squeaker.
‘Thank God we ended up making just enough to win the game,’ North Harrison coach Kevin Jones said. ‘There was a spot where it must have really been bad. That means there was a 6-of-19 in there somewhere. That’s how you give up double-digit leads, and they hit a couple of threes and make some nice drives to the basket.’
‘We did what we needed to do at the end,’ Lanesville coach Mikel Miller said of his team that made a massive surge only to come up short. ‘We missed about four key block-outs on some key free throws that gave them the ball back, so we lost four possessions down the stretch there that we could have had opportunities to score. We fought back, but I feel like it was just too inconsistent play the whole night.’
The first quarter was mostly up and down the floor at a brutal pace. North Harrison got the first lead and had a 6-4 advantage, but the Eagles followed with a burst to go in front 8-6 when Mitchell Bailey scored in the paint. However, North Harrison’s Jake Book drove the lane to start a 7-0 run as the Eagles turned the ball over twice. Elijah Wilkin scored in the paint for the Eagles at the end of the period, and North Harrison had a 13-10 edge.
‘That’s what we want,’ Miller said of the fast pace of the game. ‘We like playing that way. It helps us when we play that way. We play better. Offensively, we did a good job playing up and down, getting shots and getting opportunities. But, defensively, we did not do as well as finding them in transition.’
‘It was ugly because neither team played well,’ Jones said. ‘They didn’t play well, and it seemed rough. It seemed jagged to me … It seemed like it was a big struggle on both ends. I like to think it’s because we’re a good defensive team. Maybe Mikel thinks they are, too. So, maybe that might be part of the reason for our struggles.’
Riley Cook drilled a Lanesville 3-pointer to start the second period for a 13-all tie. Skyler Wetzel countered with a deuce, but Evan Ash drilled a second 3-pointer for the Eagles and a 16-15 Lanesville edge. Ties came again at 16 and 18.
Jake Book drove the lane for the Cougars for two, and Jake Harley drilled a three-ball, pushing the Cougars’ lead back to five, 23-18. Lanesville answered with four to pull to within one. North Harrison had a 5-0 burst to lead 28-22.
Cook then cashed in a pair of freebies at the end of the half, and the Cougars took a 28-24 lead to the locker room at the half.
‘We get into those funks where people sit in zones and we struggle to hit shots from time to time,’ Jones said. ‘You hit a couple of shots, and they come out and you start to make a little run, and they’ve got to come out and change things, too. … We had a six-point lead and the ball and we charged, and they came down and hit two free throws.’
‘Book was able to kind of get the ball and go with it, and we did a poor job of moving over and getting in front of him,’ Miller said. ‘A lot of times he wasn’t even going to pass the ball. All you had to do was slide in front of him and stop him and he’s either going to turn it over with a travel or a charge. He’s a solid player. He does it really well, works really hard. He’s able to create his own shot, and that hurt us.’
Wetzel got the first bucket of the second half, but Lanesville countered with a pair of deuces that pulled the Eagles back to within two at 30-28. The pace of the game slowed and both teams struggled with turnovers through the middle part of the period. Harley drove the lane to start a 7-0 Cougars’ burst for a 37-28 lead at the end of the quarter.
‘At the end of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth, we played some of our best basketball,’ Jones said.’ Defensively, we got some run-outs from Harley and Book and did some things really well.’
Both teams started finding the basket in the fourth quarter, and the result was a combined 59-point effort. Jake Troxell scored inside for the Cougars, and Book later followed with a jumper. Wilkin and Austin Gootee countered with a pair of deuces for Lanesville.
The Eagles later made a 9-3 run to pull Lanesville back to within six, 47-41. North Harrison answered with a 7-1 burst. Things got more interesting as the Eagles made a 10-1 run to close the game to three, 55-52, as the Cougars went cold from the free-throw line. It wasn’t until 1:21 left in the game that North Harrison finally got some freebies to go down as Book and Wetzel cashed in four, keeping the Cougars’ lead at five. With less than a minute to go, two free throws by Julien Stewart pulled the Eagles back to within three, 61-58.
Max Flock countered with two from the stripe for North Harrison. Cook scored inside, but the Eagles found themselves playing against the clock.
After Trevor Haub sank a freebie for the Cougars for a 64-60 lead, Lanesville had three chances for a final charge but suffered three turnovers as the Cougars got the four-point win.
‘Our energy was up and down all night and that led to our up-and-down play,’ Miller said. ‘We fought back and gave ourselves a chance to win in the end. I think at the three-minute mark we made a choice to start fouling and that kind of extended the game and made it (go) a little longer. We got down 13 at one point and came back to within three. As a matter of fact, we were down three and they were shooting free throws and missed, and that was one of them where they came up with the offensive rebound.’
‘We only hit two 3-pointers tonight,’ Jones said. ‘I felt like we were on the verge, when it was 12 or 13. There was a couple of threes that didn’t go. There was a couple of layups that didn’t go. There was a free throw here and there. I thought we were on the verge of really turning it over and really being able to stretch the lead out. Those shots didn’t come. Then, you give up 28 through three (quarters) and in the fourth quarter you give up 32. That’s not a very good recipe for winning a ballgame.’
Wetzel led the Cougars with 18 points, and Book finished with 15. Harley hit for 12, and Troxell had a 10-point round. The Cougars hit 22 of 47 shots from the field (47 percent) and made only half of their 40 free-throw attempts. The Cougars committed 14 turnovers.
‘We’re a better shooting team than that,’ Jones said. ‘We have some guys that are 60 to 70-percent free-throw shooters. We don’t have anybody that’s a 90 percent or automatic or anything like that like we’ve had in the past. We’ve had a couple of guys that can go and knock them down. But we’re not that bad.’
‘Jake Troxell played a phenomenal game,’ he said. ‘He scored early for us. He had to be close to a double-double. They did a good job guarding Wilkin, also just being a defensive presence in the paint for us. So, it was nice for (Troxell) to have a night like tonight. He’s going into the Navy, and we’re having a military-type game to honor our troops; it was nice for him to play well.’
Cook led Lanesville with 20 points, and Wilkin finished with 16. The Eagles hit 21 of 43 shots from the field (49 percent) and 17 of 20 free throws. Lanesville had 16 turnovers.
‘We’ve played better in the last few games,’ Miller said. ‘Last weekend, we had two games where we had four quarters in each game, and, tonight, we probably had two and three quarters. And against good teams, that’s what I told them after the game, two and three quarters aren’t going to beat good teams. You’ve got to put four solid quarters together.’
‘You learn to shoot free throws and bunnies when you’re in third grade,’ Jones said. ‘It’s a part of the game that we struggle with, and, unfortunately, most of the time, it’s whether you win the game or not. We’ve just got to take it more serious. We’ve got to get up good, quality, game shots, and that’s hard for high-schoolers to understand, too. But we’re on them. It’s an improvement we’ve got to be serious about it.’

Lanesville 10 14 4 32 ‘ 60
North Harrison 13 15 9 27 ‘ 64
Lanesville (6-8) ‘ Jacobi 2, Wilkin 16, Ash 7, Bailey 4, Cook 20, Stewart 9, Gootee 2
North Harrison (8-5) ‘ Harley 12, Haub 3, Flock 3, Troxell 10, Book 15, Kaiser 1, Jenkins 2, Wetzel 18
3-point goals ‘ Lanesville 3 (Cook 2, Bailey); North Harrison 2 (Harley, Wetzel).

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