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After slow start, NH rolls past SC

After slow start, NH rolls past SC
After slow start, NH rolls past SC
South Central's Chase Schoen tries to dribble through a host of North Harrison defenders including, from left, Skyler Wetzel, Jake Book and Quinn Kaiser. Brian Smith

Returning a bulk of its lineup, North Harrison used its experience and potent offense to post three 20-point-plus quarters in the boys’ basketball season opener at South Central last Tuesday.
With balanced scoring, the Cougars put up 26 points in the second quarter, taking a 36-22 lead into the half-time break. Building from there, North Harrison went on to defeat host South Central 83-56.
‘The first game of the year, seeing that 1-3-1 zone is a challenge,’ North Harrison coach Kevin Jones said. ‘(South Central) Coach (Greg) Robinson does a great job teaching it, and they do a great job playing it. We came out of the gates a little slow, but we were able to turn them over. That helped.’
It was a long opening possession to begin the season for South Central. Draining nearly one minute off the clock, the Rebels scored the first points with a banked in 3-pointer via Bradley Hertle. Another 3-pointer fell for Hertle on a swing pass from Chase Schoen, giving the Rebels a 6-3 lead.
Staying active on the offensive glass, North Harrison was able to take the lead. Second-chance points by Braden Jenkins and Langdon Hatton pushed North Harrison ahead 7-6. The first quarter also featured the first of three made triples by the Cougars’ Eli Gutknecht.
The opening quarter, which saw South Central turn the ball over seven times, closed with North Harrison ahead 10-8.
After picking up two fouls in the first two minutes of action, North Harrison’s top returning scorer, senior Jake Book, was confined to the bench for the remainder of the first half. Book came back in the second half to score six points before leaving the game with an injury. With a handful of players on the deck under the South Central basket, Book needed assistance to the locker room.
‘We will see how it goes with Jake,’ Jones said. ‘We can’t replace Jake with just one guy. He’s a phenomenal player and a four-year starter for us.’
South Central also dealt with foul trouble as well with two of its seniors ” Andrew Miller and T.J. Boyd ” picking up a few each.
‘Losing T.J. with two fouls along with Andrew put us in a tough situation,’ Robinson said. ‘Credit them, they pressured us and we didn’t handle it very well. We have to get better at that because teams are going to do that to us. There are times where I felt we handled the pressure, but it was not consistent.’
The two teams traded points, keeping the contest within one possession during the early stages of the second quarter. Off the bench, South Central’s Austin Tyree was a spark, scoring six of his nine points before the end of the first half.
‘That’s a challenge to my taller guys because Tyree finished better around the rim than anybody we have,’ Robinson said. ‘I felt he did a nice job overall for a sophomore playing in his first extensive varsity game. North is big and as strong of a team we will see all year.’
A Tyree basket cut North Harrison’s lead in the second quarter to three, 17-14. From there, North Harrison went on a 10-0 outburst. Skyler Wetzel had a steal and score, then Quinn Kaiser finished in the paint. From the outside, Gutknecht netted a 3, then Trevor Haub converted a 3-point play.
‘After the first quarter, we were able to shoot better,’ Jones said. ‘Eli coming in to hit a few 3s and Max (Flock) getting a few late, it opens the game up. We were able to score some points down low. Trevor gave us a boost, and Skyler was solid. It wasn’t Skyler’s best game, but he’s always going to be solid. He’s going to have to play some back-up point guard for us.’
With Book out, Wetzel and Jake Harley handled much of the ball-handling duties.
‘Jake Harley is ready to play,’ Jones said. ‘We are more prepared if something like this were to happen. You don’t want this to happen, but, in year four, we are prepared with the depth we have. We have guys that can play some different roles.’
Wetzel powered for a defensive board then took off to the other end of the floor for a lay-in, showcasing his abilities. The play gave North Harrison a 34-18 lead at the time. Free throws for South Central from Brandon Summers and Lucas Stewart saw the half-time score sit at 36-22 in favor of the Cougars.
Jenkins was active around the rim for North Harrison, especially in the first half. He closed the game with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
‘Braden Jenkins, I haven’t seen the stats yet, but he did a good job rebounding and doing a lot of positive things for us,’ Jones said.
After a slow start, Flock scored five points early in the third quarter. It was an up-and-down pace as North Harrison outscored South Central 21-17 to expand its lead. For South Central, Schoen had a nifty behind-the-back pass in transition to set up a T.J. Boyd field goal.
‘I was pleasantly surprised once we got to their speed; we didn’t do a bad job,’ Robinson said. ‘The combination of turnover streaks and missed lay-up streaks hurt us. Their length probably had something to do with our misses. It hurt because it came in bunches.’
Steals by Book and Kaiser led to each scoring for North Harrison early in the fourth. A single free throw by Flock put North Harrison up 62-39. Then, Book and Wibbels went down, ending the night for both with injuries.
After the gym went silent, South Central returned to the floor with five unanswered points scored by Summers. Out of a time-out, North Harrison refocused and finished off the game with plenty of offense. Hatton and Wetzel finished with 11 points each, while Flock and Gutknecht scored nine apiece.
‘Hopefully, we got our first game jitters out of the way,’ Jones said. ‘To score 83 points after the way we started, I’m happy with … We had positive contributions from a lot of players.’
South Central faces two tough tasks to open the season: Class 3A North Harrison and 2A state runner-up Crawford County.
‘It may be the best team we see all season, for sure in the top five,’ Robinson said. ‘We will see another one on Saturday (was a 68-33 loss at Crawford County) that will do the same things. It’s really hard to simulate what these teams are going to do to us. We aren’t tall, so we can’t simulate North Harrison. We have to feel our way in and out of there.’
Robinson said his team will continue to work on ball handling and finishing around the rim.
‘We did some good things on defense,’ he said. ‘We gave up too many second-chance points. Those are areas we have to shore up.’
North Harrison is set to host rival Corydon Central on Friday at 7:30 p.m. South Central, meanwhile, will take a road trip Saturday to play in the historic Hoosier Gym in Knightstown. The Rebels will face Dugger Union at 3 p.m. Tickets ($3 for students, $7 for adults) are available at South Central through tomorrow (Thursday) or at the door Saturday.

North Harrison 10 26 21 26 ‘ 83
South Central 8 14 17 17 ‘ 56
North Harrison (1-0) ‘ Jenkins 15, Wetzel 11, Hatton 11, Flock 9, Gutknecht 9, Kaiser 8, Haub 7, Book 6, Harmon 4, Davis 3.
South Central (0-1) ‘ Tyree 9, Hertle 9, Summers 7, Boyd 7, Stewart 6, Schoen 6, Daugherty 3, Basham 3, Miller 2, Wibbels 2, Smith 2.
3-point goals ‘ North Harrison 7 (Gutknecht 3, Flock 2, Wetzel, Davis); South Central 7 (Hertle 3, Tyree, Daugherty, Boyd, Basham).