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Hands to you, Lady Cats

Hands to you, Lady Cats
Hands to you, Lady Cats
North Harrison players Madison Shelton (32) and Lexy Terrell lock hands while on stage after accepting runner-up medals at the Class 3A state championship game. Photo by Brian Smith

Each Lady Cat had a red ribbon placed around her neck, then, one by one, they walked across the center stage Saturday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse to stand alongside their teammates.
Hands locking, the Lady Cats formed a bond, not only caught on the over-the-top massive center court TV, but with the communities of New Salisbury, Ramsey, Palmyra, Depauw, Bradford and beyond.
It was evident through the tears, hugs and some blank faces that the Lady Cats were after the blue ribbon.
About two feet below the stage, it was on the hardwood the Lady Cats came up on the short end of another bid for a Class 3A girls’ basketball state title.
While the shots didn’t fall against South Bend St. Joseph, the Lady Cats have poured more into a community than anyone might realize.
The fanfare during the last month ‘ check that, last year and four months ‘ has been more than amazing to witness.
It’s on the court where this group of North Harrison girls’ basketball players have poured in countless hours of energy. However, it’s off the court where the Lady Cats have won the hearts of many.
Those inside the basketball world have been aware of North Harrison’s potential for greatness within the girls’ program for a few years. While that number may have begun in the hundreds about three years ago, it’s since grown to thousands.
No place was the bond between players and fans more evident than with the assistance of blaring music within Charlestown Arena for the regional championship. With candied-striped blue pants and wide grins, the Lady Cats filled the hall between the lockers and the playing floor with energy. Don’t ask me who has the best dance moves on the team; I think several will lay claim to the honor themselves.
More than half of The Charlestown Arena was decked out in blue, many standing to boogie along with the music and the Lady Cats. If not getting down to the tunes, lungs were belting choruses of ‘Sweet Caroline.’
Each time North Harrison cut down nets along the way to Bankers Life, the Lady Cats wore out host venues by eclipsing curfews. Players and coaches took the time to pose for photos with fans and sign autographs for others.
At Charlestown, the party on the floor carried on so long the lights dimmed before a team photo was snapped. The same happened in Jeffersonville upon winning semi-state. Thirty minutes on the scoreboard for a celebration brought on the blaring horn as families continued to gather for group photo ops.
On Saturday at state, when the team was down, the girls were never out. The sixth-man, sixth-woman, sixth-student formed a drove of support at each time-out. Claps and cheers did what they could to boost the Lady Cats.
The question has been posed to North Harrison coach Missy Voyles several times: Will this all sink in at some point?
It’s been a tough question to answer because the outpouring of togetherness within the community is hard to quantify on top of the basketball history. Making a state final in consecutive years is a monumental deal. Within Class 3A, North Harrison is the first non-private school to reach back-to-back state finals since the class era began in 1998.
Off the court, there’s no way to put into words the celebration and send-off within the communities.
On Friday, at 8:30 a.m., boys and girls at Morgan Elementary School went nuts as the Lady Cats’ players walked the halls and gathered for a pep rally in the gym.
The hype of the youth encapsulated the love from the community that has grown to support outstanding young women.
It took hard work in practices and open gyms to gain the basketball talent, but the North Harrison Lady Cats have blossomed into fantastic role models.

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