NH locks up MSC on emotional senior night
It was an emotional evening last Thursday for the North Harrison Lady Cats as the team’s six seniors were honored on senior night against visiting Brownstown Central. The senior class, the most decorated in the school’s history, fought through early emotions and some tears to win over the Lady Braves, 66-40, to secure at least a share of the Mid-Southern Conference championship.
‘I just kind of hoped we quit crying before tipoff,’ Lady Cats coach Missy Voyles said. ‘It’s been an emotional ride for them for four years. It’s been a lot. We’ve played a lot of basketball. We’ve spent a lot of time together. You don’t normally have that many people playing varsity for you for that many years. We’ve grown very close to them.
‘Most kids, when they come into varsity, they don’t usually start as freshmen. We had four of them starting as freshmen and everybody dressing by their sophomore year. Three of them, since freshmen year, have been starters on this team, alternating a little bit. You don’t normally get four-year varsity players, that many in one year. … ‘
Brownstown Central came out hoping to be the spoilers and played shot for shot with the Lady Cats until midway through the first period. North Harrison then put together a 9-2 run that gave the Lady Cats some breathing space and a 15-9 lead.
Madison Klinge drilled a three-ball for the Lady Braves. Shelby Kondovski traded paint with Ashley Schroer at the end of the period, and the Lady Cats had 17-14 edge after one quarter.
‘Brownstown Central is a good team,’ Voyles said. ‘They’re very physical, and they shoot the ball very well. I expected them to come out and play … They’re a good 3-point shooting team. It’s not just tonight. They shoot the three well. They’ve got a good shot in their sectional.’
During the short break, Voyles told her players they had to get back to the game of basketball and play the way they know how.
‘We just really needed to get the ball reversed and inside,’ she said. ‘We had a definite height advantage. We were talking about getting some mismatches with their guard play because it was a man-to-man, just really focusing on what would give us some easy inside shots.’
The Lady Cats turned up the heat in the second quarter, scoring the first six points of the period to lead 23-14. Brownstown Central’s Shelby Stuckwisch hit a short jumper, but Lilly Hatton got a freebie to start a 10-2 North Harrison run to lead 34-18. Kylee Wischmeier got the final basket of the half, and the Lady Cats had a 34-20 lead at the break.
Voyles had a plan for the second half, but her team reverted back to what it does best.
‘I explained an offense I wanted to see them run, and we went out there and didn’t remember it from the locker room to the court,’ the Lady Cats coach said while laughing. ‘We went back to the things they do well. We played a little more of a half-court trap and tried to force them into some rushed shots.’
Hatton and Cali Nolot got the first points of the second half, but, then, the two teams went through a swap meet, with Brownstown Central getting threes to North Harrison’s deuces to make up a small amount of ground. The Lady Braves had no answer for Hatton, however, as the North Harrison junior scored 12 points in the period for a 50-32 North Harrison lead.
In the fourth quarter, the Lady Cats had a major scare when Nolot went down two minutes into the period and was very slow to get up, rubbing her right knee. Voyles quickly swapped out her seniors during the timeout and all attention went to the North Harrison bench and Nolot.
‘I just hyper-extended my knee a little bit,’ Nolot later said. ‘It’ll be OK.’
‘I actually had the subs going in before she went down,’ Voyles said. ‘That was supposed to be their moment for applause where I subbed them all out at the same time. Instead, the gym went silent. That did not have the effect I wanted. I was supposed to get all five seniors out and then get that last senior on and back off. So, as I go to sub them and they’re supposed to have that big celebration moment, the gym goes dead silent because we think Cali’s hurt. I think she’s fine.’
North Harrison outscored Brownstown Central 4-2 in the final minute and went on to the 66-40 win to claim a share of the Mid-Southern Conference championship.
Hatton led North Harrison’s scoring with 26 points, and Nolot followed with 16. The Lady Cats hit 27 of 45 field-goal attempts (60 percent) and 10 of 17 free throws. North Harrison had 10 turnovers.
Brownstown Central was led by Schroer, who scored 12. The Lady Braves checked in with 11-of-37 shooting from the field (30 percent) and 12 of 15 from the charity stripe. Brownstown Central finished with 15 turnovers.
The Lady Cats had one more regular season game, at Corydon Central on Saturday, and easily won that one, 62-20, which included a delay for water on the court due to rain coming through the ceiling. The win gave the Lady Cats sole ownership of the conference with a 9-0 record.
With three games to be played following the sectional draw, Voyles said she didn’t want to start thinking about her team’s Bedford North Lawrence draw until the other games were played.
‘We didn’t overlook Brownstown Central,’ she said. ‘We’ve been focusing on Madison and Brownstown Central and then Corydon, and then we’ll talk about Bedford. You don’t overlook teams. That’s where you get upset. One game at a time. We still had three games left after they called that sectional draw.’
North Harrison’s sectional draw puts the Lady Cats up against Bedford North Lawrence tonight (Wednesday) in game two, while Seymour and Jeffersonville were to have played each other in game one in the upper bracket last night. The winner of the Jeff-Seymour contest will face Floyd Central, which drew the bye, on Friday night.
‘I was mad because Jeffersonville was in the other bracket and felt they should be over there with us,’ Voyles said. ‘You’ve got to play Bedford. Bedford or Jeff, you’re not going to get out of there without playing one of them. I don’t have a problem with playing Bedford, but I did look at that and said, ‘Jeff should be stuck over there with us.’
‘It is what it is,’ she said. ‘I don’t know if I ever really get a good draw. I’m really used to that. I never get an easy draw. I think I always get the hard road. I don’t think I’ve ever got a bye round. I’m very unlucky.’
Still, Voyles is feeling positive going into tonight’s game against the Lady Stars.
‘What have you got to lose?’ the North Harrison coach asked. ‘They’ve had a great run. I think they can beat Bedford. I think they can win that sectional. I think there’s no shame in it if they don’t. They’re the best team we’ve ever had come through this school regardless of what happens next week.’
‘I told them their sophomore year, ‘You’re still not the best team that’s gone through here yet. You haven’t done anything yet,’ Voyles said. ‘So, they’ve made it a point to tell me I haven’t told them that, that they’re the best team to have ever come through here. They officially are. They get to be the best team we’ve ever had. And, then, I tell them they never had an undefeated regular season like we had in 2003. I just like to needle them a little bit ’cause it’s fun.’
Brownstown Central 14 6 12 8 ‘ 40
North Harrison 17 17 16 16 ‘ 66
Brownstown Central (17-7, 8-0 MSC) ‘ S. Stuckwisch 9, Garland 3, Farmer 2, Schroer 12, Hehman 5, Klinge 3, Thomas 2, Wischmeier 2, Poulton 2
North Harrison (20-2, 5-4) ‘ Rennirt 8, Kondovski 2, Hatton 26, Hinton 3, Nolot 16, Nokes 8, Chiquito 3
3-point goals ‘ Brownstown Central 4 (S. Stuckwisch, Garland, Hehman, Klinge); North Harrison 4 (Nokes 2, Rennirt, Hinton).