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‘Amazing’ close for Lady Cats in title bout

‘Amazing’ close for Lady Cats in title bout
‘Amazing’ close for Lady Cats in title bout
North Harrison junior Taylor Rennirt snips a portion of the net after the Lady Cats knocked off Charlestown 71-32 Saturday night in Corydon. Photos by Wade Bell

‘It’s amazing!’
Those were the words of North Harrison senior Stevi Burns Saturday night after she and the rest of the Lady Cats basketball team successfully defended their sectional title at the Corydon Central Sectional. After having a tight start, then a lot of bumping and grinding in the first half, the Lady Cats pulled away from the Charlestown Lady Pirates for a 71-32 rout, moving into this weekend’s regional round.
‘I’m very excited for it,’ junior Hallie Hinton said of returning to the regional round at Charlestown where the Lady Cats will go head-on against Rushville. ‘It will be a very tough game. We’ll have to work really hard and be really physical, but I think our team can do anything.’
The Lady Cats first had to get past Charlestown, which came out aggressive in the first half. North Harrison exploded to an 11-3 lead to begin the game. Erin Kimbrell scored in the paint for the Lady Pirates, but Burns quickly countered with a three-ball and Cali Nolot converted a deuce off a Charlestown turnover to put the Lady Cats up by double-digits, 16-5.
The Lady Pirates had an answer with seven straight points, with Karston Watson sinking a 3-pointer to pull Charlestown back to within four, 16-12. Emma Nokes, however, scored inside for the Lady Cats, and North Harrison led by six after one quarter.
‘There was a lot of pressure from both teams,’ Hinton said. ‘A lot of us were really excited. They came out and got some momentum on us.’
The game got more physical in the second quarter. North Harrison missed its first three shots, and Brianna Harvey drilled a 3-pointer that closed the gap to three, forcing North Harrison to call a time-out.
Following the break, Charlestown began collapsing on North Harrison sophomore and leading scorer Lilly Hatton with a triple-team. Hatton finally broke loose to get a deuce in the paint. That started a 13-0 run by the Lady Cats, and North Harrison took a 31-15 lead to the locker room at halftime.
Hinton said her team just had to get back to what it always does to win.
‘We were just getting in our groove,’ she said of the first half. ‘It was early. That’s what we always do. We always start out a little bit rough. We all talked to each other, and we all wanted the same goal. We all wanted the ‘W.’ We wanted the win, obviously, and we just got ourselves back into it.’
‘We just talked about where we were defensively and not getting to certain assignments and what we needed to do offensively,’ North Harrison coach Missy Voyles said. ‘It wasn’t a lot of (being) upset at the way we’re playing. We needed to move it a little more.’
Hatton said the physical play in the second quarter is something she expects.
‘It got a little rough, but I think we held our composure well,’ Hatton said. ‘I think we kept pushing hard, so I don’t think it affects us. We did watch both of their first two rounds. We knew coming in they were a 3-point shooting team. That’s what they were going to look for. We lost that a little bit in the first half, but, after halftime, we refocused, we regrouped and we came out and took that away.’
‘Every team comes out playing their hardest against us,’ Burns said. ‘I feel like we’re the team everyone wants to beat this year. They definitely came out hard and fighting, but we pulled through it.’
‘We’re used to that,’ Voyles said. ‘Guard play tends to be called a little tighter and the inside doesn’t, and that doesn’t benefit us.’
Charlestown continued to fight to stay in the hunt as Harvey and Samantha Matthews drilled 3-pointers and Peyton Crace added a deuce to keep the Lady Pirates to within 16, 39-23.
North Harrison countered quickly with six unanswered points. Harvey sank a free throw and then a 3-pointer, but Hinton negated the 3 by hitting from behind the arc. North Harrison’s Jessicka Chiquito drilled a 3-pointer at the end of the period, and the Lady Cats’ lead ballooned to 51-28.
In the fourth quarter, North Harrison made sure Charlestown didn’t get another chance to rally by ripping out a 9-0 run highlighted by back-to-back 3-pointers by Chiquito. Charlestown hit just a single field goal in the quarter, while the Lady Cats outscored the Lady Pirates 20-4 for the 71-32 win and a return to the regional.
‘We hit some shots,’ Voyles said of the key to finally pulling away. ‘That was it. We hit some 10- and 12-foot shots, and that opened things up a little bit. (Taylor Rennirt) got some little shots in the 10-to-12-foot range, and that’s what she needed to do. It’s a great shot for her. It’s been hard to get her to take it, but it is a great shot for her.’
Hatton said part of the half-time talk was just about keeping composure and not getting rattled at any run Charlestown might make.
‘This is sectional,’ she said. ‘Anything can happen in the sectional. Keep our composure and stay calm. We were up 15, 16 points at halftime, so just making sure we didn’t get anything going in our heads. We stayed calm. We were doing the right things. We just wanted to amp it up a little bit, turn up the intensity.’
Rennirt led North Harrison’s scoring with 14 points, and Hatton finished with 12. Chiquito tallied 11 points for the Lady Cats, who hit 27 of 56 field-goal attempts (48 percent) and 6 of 10 free throws. The Lady Cats stayed in single digits on turnovers with just nine.
‘We started making some shots,’ Hinton said. ‘Jessicka made some great shots for us tonight. Stevi did, Emma (Nokes) did, Taylor did, Cali (Nolot), everyone on the team contributed, and that’s what we’ve got to do to win.’
Harvey led the Lady Pirates with 11 points. Charlestown connected on 11 of 37 shots from the field (29 percent) and 4 of 9 attempts from the charity stripe. The Lady Pirates turned over the ball 20 times.
‘I expect them to come out and play well,’ Voyles said of Charlestown. ‘They’ve got kids who can shoot and kids that have played a lot of varsity basketball. This is Matthew’s second and Harvey’s third year of varsity basketball. You’ve got experienced players on this varsity court.’
North Harrison’s thoughts are now on the next step toward the brass ring at the Charlestown Regional, where the Lady Cats will face a tough Rushville team featuring a 22-3 record. The Lady Cats will play the second game of the morning session.
‘We’re looking forward to (regional) right away,’ Burns said. ‘We’re ready to go. We start practicing next week, so we’re ready.’
‘Monday we’re going to be watching film and practicing hard and going at it,’ Hatton said. ‘We’ve just got to work hard all next week and be ready for Saturday.’

North Harrison ‘ 18 13 20 20 ‘ 71
Charlestown’ ‘ ‘ 12 3 13 4 ‘ 32
North Harrison (24-2) ‘ Rennirt 14, Terrell 2, Hatton 12, Hinton 5, Nolot 7, Nokes 6, Shelton 5, Chiquito 11, Burns 9
Charlestown (15-11) ‘ Watson 5, Crace 7, Harvey 11, Igleheart 2, Kimbrell 2, Matthews 5
3-point goals ‘ North Harrison 7 (Chiquito 3, Rennirt, Hinton, Shelton, Burns); Charlestown 6 (Harvey 3, Watson, Crace, Matthews).