Lady Cats’ ‘sloppy’ play bests Salem
Thursday presented two of the top teams in the Mid-Southern Conference meeting in Ramsey.
Both ranked No. 8 in their respective classes ‘ Salem in 3A, North Harrison in 4A ‘ the showdown was for the top spot in the MSC. Salem, winner of 10 straight games after a season-opening defeat to Seymour, gave North Harrison some fits during portions of the game.
The Lady Cats, despite coach Missy Voyles saying her team didn’t play well, pulled away in the second half to win 52-34. North Harrison’s defense made up for the offensive struggle at times, holding the Lady Lions to their season low in points scored.
‘We just didn’t play well, plain and simple,’ Voyles said.
North Harrison turned the ball over 15 times and shot 40 percent from the field.
Voyles did credit an improving Salem team that boasts a roster of one senior (Jamie Taylor) and a host of underclass players. Sophomores Leah Miller (12 points) and Hope Tomlinson (11 points) paced Salem in scoring.
‘It’s a good basketball team, and I told (our team) going into it,’ Voyles said. ‘You have a good young team with size, good guard play and they can shoot.’
It was another double-double night for North Harrison’s 6-foot-1 Lilly Hatton. Going 8 for 14 from the field, the junior had 19 points and 12 rebounds. She also limited Salem’s inside game with six blocked shots.
Senior Cali Nolot was steady again for North Harrison; she had 16 points and three rebounds. As a team, North Harrison had 13 steals; five of those were credited to Nolot.
North Harrison was able to build an 11-point lead after one quarter. Nolot opened things up with an old-fashioned 3-point play. Hatton went on to score eight points in the opening frame as well.
Taylor Rennirt pestered Salem into a turnover in the North Harrison press defense, leading to an easy lay-in for Lady Cats’ teammate Jessicka Chiquito. Prior to the first-quarter horn, Chiquito had a 3 fall off the rim into the hands of North Harrison’s Emma Nokes for a put-back field goal. North Harrison led 19-8 after one quarter.
Salem didn’t back away from trapping and applying pressure to North Harrison, eventually forcing 15 turnovers. In the second quarter, Salem used triples from Miller and Tomlinson to make a run. A jumper by Taylor then a runner in the lane by Tomlinson cut North Harrison’s lead to six, 24-18.
‘I don’t know if it’s end-of-semester exams tomorrow or other things going on; they didn’t play well as a team tonight,’ Voyles said.
It took some hustle plays for North Harrison to build the advantage back up to nine, 29-20, at the half. Chiquito had an offensive board lead to Hatton drawing a foul to make a single free throw. A quick push up the court by Rennirt led to Hatton scoring inside. Then, before the buzzer, Hatton leaped to tip in a Hallie Hinton missed shot.
Out of the half, North Harrison went on to outscore Salem 23-14 in the next 16 minutes of action. The third quarter saw Nolot knock down her second trey, then Rennirt swished a jumper from the elbow. Late in the frame, Chiquito and Nolot combined for a 3-point play. Chiquito dropped off a slick pass in the paint for Nolot to finish off the points.
What bothered Voyles the most about her team’s performance? ‘Lack of patience,’ she said.
‘We are either going to decide to reverse the basketball and loosen things up and get some patience or it’s going to bite us in the rear end at some point,’ Voyles said.
North Harrison’s record improved to 11-1 and 5-0 in league play. A few stakes also extended for the Lady Cats. The victory over Salem was the 24th consecutive MSC win and the 28th in a row on the home floor.
‘We didn’t play horrible basketball; we just played impatient basketball,’ Voyles said. ‘It was ugly; it was sloppy. It wasn’t horrible because we played a good team and ended up winning. It was uncharacteristically sloppy.’
Nokes finished with six points and seven rebounds for the Lady Cats. Tops in assists for North Harrison were Rennirt (five), Hinton (four) and Chiquito (four).
North Harrison has some time off before returning to game action. The Lady Cats are slated to open against Madison in the Rumble on the River tournament hosted by Southwestern on Friday, Dec. 29, at 1:30 p.m. The Lady Cats won the event in 2015 (participating in the Hall of Fame Classic last season filled the North Harrison schedule, not allowing the Lady Cats to defend the title).
Salem 8 12 8 6 ‘ 34
North Harrison 19 10 14 9 ‘ 52
Salem (10-2, 4-1 MSC) ‘ Miller 12, Tomlinson 11, Taylor 6, Underwood 2, Nice 2, Backherms 1.
North Harrison (11-1, 5-0) ‘ Hatton 19, Nolot 16, Nokes 6, Rennirt 4, Chiquito 2, Robertson 2, Kondovski 2, Jacobi 1.
3-point goals ‘ Salem 4 (Tomlinson 3, Miller); North Harrison 2 (Nolot 2).