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This trip expected

This trip expected
This trip expected
North Harrison poses as a team after winning the Class 3A Jeffersonville Semi-state, sending the Lady Cats to the state final for the second consecutive season. Photo by Brian Smith

Chicago Cubs to the World Series?
Not expected.
New England Patriots get to the Super Bowl?
Expected.
UConn women’s basketball never losing a game?
Getting to be expected.
The cloud of lofty expectations have surrounded the North Harrison girls’ basketball team since this point last season. A moment in the state tournament during the 2016 campaign that opened the window for the Lady Cats was then-No. 1 and unbeaten Princeton getting upset during sectional play.
North Harrison went to work last year from that point on, fighting off several talented teams to reach the state final, only to fall 51-45 to perennial power house Heritage Christian.
While a season ago an appearance at the state final may not have been the obvious goal, it became one quickly. A one-opponent-at-a-time philosophy saw the Lady Cats celebrate with each cutting down of the nets.
Having stepped on the floor at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis once before, the return trip seemed bound to materialize. Four starters would return. Cali Nolot, a multi-facet player injured through much of the playoffs in 2016, would get to play more than one half of postseason ball. Lilly Hatton, a budding star, broke out as a freshman eying an even better sophomore go around. Senior Stevi Burns, a four-year contributor, was set to pester opponents on the defensive end once again. Juniors Taylor Rennirt, Hallie Hinton and Emma Nokes got a taste of the post-season glory as sophomores. Fellow junior Jessicka Chiquito missed all offseason with a knee injury and has came on late in the season to contribute.
Early in the campaign, voters in the coaches’ poll kept their eyes on North Harrison and placed them No. 1 in Class 3A by mid-season. The target didn’t seem to bother the Lady Cats.
To start the season, a slug-fest with Jeffersonville resulted in a 27-25 victory at Johnson Arena, the site where North Harrison wrapped up semi-state last Saturday with a 65-43 win over Danville. A week after defeating Jeffersonville, North Harrison fended off its toughest Mid-Southern Conference test by defeating Eastern (Pekin) 56-40. It is the same Lady Musketeers who will make the same trip up Interstate 65 on Saturday to play for a 2A state title.
The MSC was all North Harrison the rest of the way, with the Lady Cats going 9-0.
North Harrison sustained two losses during the season, both to 4A programs. In the championship of the Hall of Fame Classic at New Castle, Greenfield-Central won 61-37. Regrouping took place quickly. North Harrison dusted 4A Seymour 69-43 followed by walloping then-2A No. 5 Providence 77-35.
A hiccup on the road at Bedford North Lawrence (50-39) set the Lady Cats back with another loss. Again, the bounce came, including a 56-17 win over a 15-win Brownstown Central squad in the regular-season finale.
As the season rode on, I’m not sure a player on North Harrison’s bench cared much at all about expectations.
There is one area I’m sure is spoken about more: defense.
Three times out of 29 contests, the Lady Cats have given up 50 or more points. A season ago, North Harrison gave up 39 points per outing. In 2016-17, the number has dropped to 36. That will win some games.
If it’s in the half court, full court, three-quarter court or food court, North Harrison is out to rattle offenses and maybe snag a popcorn from the stands.
It’ll take that type of defensive effort to bring home Harrison County’s first state title in a team sport.
There’s little doubt these Lady Cats have the confidence to get the job done. It may not be the rarefied level UConn plays at, but the calm, cool Lady Cats make it feel like this trip to Indianapolis could have been planned a year ago.
May it be tie-dyed or royal blue, the throng of North Harrison followers will paint the Bank blue. From Corydon to Charlestown to Jeffersonville to Indianapolis, the thousands have supported any type of expectation.
Come 6:07 p.m. Saturday, the Lady Cats will be ready to play some ball.

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