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‘Ugly’ win is a win for Lady Cats at Austin

‘Ugly’ win is a win for Lady Cats at Austin
‘Ugly’ win is a win for Lady Cats at Austin
At the top of the key, North Harrison's Skylie Burns takes the ball away from Austin's Grace Igleheart in the second half. Photo by Brian Smith

Thursday’s trip to Austin for the North Harrison girls’ basketball team wasn’t accompanied by the Lady Cats’ A-game, but the effort was good enough to pick up a Mid-Southern Conference win.
After an ear-rattling, rock show-like performance by the Austin pep band during pre-game, North Harrison came out a step slow. The Lady Cats, after trailing by seven, rallied back to earn a 45-35 decision. During the end of the second quarter and all of the third, North Harrison outscored Austin 22-2 to take a commanding lead.
‘I don’t know if we took them as seriously as we should have,’ North Harrison coach Missy Voyles said. ‘(Austin) is a team that will play one team close that you think maybe they shouldn’t have then the next game it’s opposite. Their record shows they are back and forth with how well they play.’
Using a physical style of play, often doubling North Harrison’s Lilly Hatton and chasing around emerging guard Ali Saunders, caused the Lady Cats to seek points elsewhere at times.
Hatton, held to nine shot attempts, closed with 16 points to go with six rebounds and three blocked shots. Stepping up to use her mid-range game and driving ability was Diana Burgher. The freshman had a steady shooting night, going 6 of 11 from the field.
‘They weren’t guarding her, and she was confident, stepped up and hit some shots,’ Voyles said of Burgher. ‘It was a good night for her. She finished around the rim and was less hesitant. We need her to be that player.’
All of Austin’s early scoring came from downtown. Jalen Coomer and Misti Kimberlin combined for five made triples in the first eight minutes. It led to the Lady Eagles having a 17-10 lead after one quarter.
‘We have a really hard time chasing the basketball and doubling when we are not supposed to be,’ Voyles said. ‘Defensively, we were really flat in the first half.’
North Harrison post player Lucy Robertson blocked a 3-point try of Coomer in the opening stanza, but, in a scramble for the ball, Robertson left the court with an ankle injury. She returned to the sideline in the second half but didn’t re-enter the contest.
Adding Robertson to the mix on the bench added more adversity for the Lady Cats to overcome. Senior Savana Rhodes sat out after sustaining an injury to her eye versus Seymour. Also, Hatton and Saunders were battling illnesses.
‘It’s been a rough week for us, but we don’t make excuses,’ Voyles said. ‘Lilly has bronchitis, and Ali has strep. Savana is on the sideline with one eyeball, then Lucy gets hurt. They are playing through adversity and managing to win ugly.’
Skylie Burns provided an offensive spark in the second quarter for North Harrison, swishing a pair of 3-pointers. Burgher added a field goal with three minutes until the half-time break to get North Harrison within a point, 21-20. Neither team scored again before intermission.
Defense, along with making buckets, helped North Harrison get on track in the third. Austin turned the ball over six times, helping lead to North Harrison’s 17-2 scoring run.
Burgher opened with a field goal, then Hatton sank some freebies. Saunders managed to find her way through the lane for a scoop off the glass. She also stepped back for a triple before Hatton went on to score six straight. Burgher closed the lopsided frame with a three-point play.
‘To put pressure on them and quit letting them stand out there and take wide open shots,’ Voyles said of the second-half difference. ‘(Austin) is a physical team and threw some junk defenses at us. I probably could have done a better job preparing for that than what I did.’
Saunders, a freshman point guard, drew plenty of attention from the Lady Eagles.
‘I said, ‘Welcome to varsity basketball; that’s a sign of respect’,’ Voyles said. ‘I know Ali wasn’t enjoying it much, but it was a sign of respect. She needs to watch this film and see how easy she made it for them to guard her.’
Burgher’s and-one gave North Harrison a 14-point advantage, 37-23, going into the final quarter. The final eight minutes were sloppy on both ends. Austin was able to get within 10 points twice but never closer.
Chloe Jacobi led North Harrison in rebounding with nine. She also had three steals. Voyles said she had issue with Jacobi’s placement and movement in the first half on the offensive end. Her effort on the glass, however, continues to be a strength.
‘I can’t fault that kid’s effort on the floor,’ Voyles said. ‘She will go for a rebound no matter where she is on the floor. If everyone would go after rebounds like Chloe Jacobi does, we would get every one. She really gets after it.’
North Harrison’s staring lineup features four players at 5-11 or taller with Jacobi being one.
‘She is playing out of position because she really needs to be more of a four, which she will play next year,’ Voyles said. ‘She’s playing the three and forced to get out and defend in places she isn’t used to. Hopefully, this makes her better for next year. She has handled it well.’
Burns finished with six points and three steals.
Austin’s top scorer was Kimberlin with 13 points. Coomer added nine, all coming in the first quarter.
North Harrison has three games remaining on its schedule: tomorrow (Thursday) at Bedford North Lawrence, Tuesday at home versus Madison and Thursday, Jan. 24, at Brownstown Central.

North Harrison 10 10 17 8 ‘ 45
Austin 17 4 2 12 ‘ 35
North Harrison (13-5, 5-1 MSC) ‘ Lilly Hatton 16, Diana Burgher 13, Skylie Burns 8, Ali Saunders 5, Chloe Jacobi 3.
Austin (9-11, 1-6) ‘ Misti Kimberlin 13, Jalen Coomer 9, Grace Igleheart 6, Hannah Beck 3, Addy Cole 2, Ashlynn Satterwhite 2.
3-point goals ‘ North Harrison 4 (Burns 2, Saunders, Jacobi); Austin 7 (Kimberlin 3, Coomer 3, Beck).