Salem knocks down Lady Cats
By Wade Bell, Sports Writer
If not interesting enough, the Mid-Southern Conference race in girls’ basketball became even more interesting Thursday night following North Harrison’s game against visiting Salem, ranked third in Class 3A.
The Lady Cats and Brownstown had been sitting atop the leader board with clean records, but North Harrison slipped to the Lady Lions in a six-point loss, leaving Brownstown all alone at 5-0, with Salem, North Harrison and Silver Creek tied for second at 4-1. With a big mixture of games still left to play, the title won’t be decided until the Lady Cats’ last game of the regular season when they will meet Brownstown.
“(Salem has) got to play Silver Creek yet,” said North Harrison head coach Barry Geltmaker. “We’ve got to play Brownstown. We’ve got Brownstown here. Brownstown beat Silver Creek. You don’t know what’s going to happen. Brownstown beat Salem and has got to go to Silver Creek, so that will be a struggle for them. I told the girls it’s not the end of the world.”
North Harrison’s game against Salem wasn’t the prettiest for either team with missed easy shots and turnovers being a bug-a-boo. The two teams played almost evenly through the first quarter with Salem and the Lady Cats cashing in five field goals each. The difference was Salem hit a three-ball and an extra free throw for a 14-12 edge at the end of the period.
Hope Tomlinson put Salem up by four to start the second quarter, but Ali Saunders sank a deuce and two freebies to tie the game back up at 16. The Lady Cats later had a chance to go back on top but missed three straight shots inside the circle. Carly Sweeney buried a Salem three, but North Harrison found the basket for five straight points to go back on top by two. Tomlinson scored the last point of the half with a free throw, and the Lady Cats had a 21-20 edge at halftime.
“They’ve seen us six times,” said Geltmaker. “They knew what we were doing.”
“I wasn’t upset with the first half,” he said. “I wasn’t upset with the whole game. We missed a couple of easy ones there at the end that might have kept us in it. It’s just we panicked there for just three minutes and, when you panic against them, it’s like vultures; they take over.”
The second half started as a swap meet between the two teams, but then Abigail Ratts created a 6-2 burst for the Lady Lions getting into the paint three straight times. Salem added even more to that with a 6-0 run and had a 37-28 lead, forcing North Harrison to call time out with 2:12 left in the period.
The Lady Cats regrouped during the break and fought back. Lucy Robertson got a deuce-and-one, and Skylie Burns later converted in the paint to close the gap to four by the end of the quarter. Diana Burgher scored inside at the beginning of the fourth, closing the gap to two. Minutes later, Ratts put in a pair of free throws and Sweeney scored in the paint for a six-point Salem lead.
Burgher countered with back-to-back buckets in the paint. Salem missed its next field goal, but Robertson was called for a foul and Ratts got one of two. Callie Backherms converted on a missed North Harrison shot to push Salem’s lead back to five. Burns kept the Lady Cats in touch with a jumper and two in the paint. From there, Salem’s game went to the free-throw line. The Lady Lions connected on 5-of-6 shots from the charity stripe going on for the 53-47 win.
“Their defense is pretty good,” said Geltmaker. “Ali (Saunders) couldn’t get anything off. They were facing and guarding her everywhere. We had one little stretch where we turned it over and they got up on us, and we got it back and we thought we might overtake them then but we just couldn’t get over the hump after that. It was that one little stretch.”
Burgher led the Lady Cats with 14 points, and Robertson followed with 10. North Harrison was 16 of 44 from the field (36%) missing all nine of their three-point attempts and 15 of 19 from the charity stripe. The Lady Cats had 17 turnovers for the game.
“We handled them pretty well,” said the North Harrison coach. “We just got in such big foul trouble. They were in foul trouble, too, but it kills us when we get in foul trouble. We just struggle when we get in foul trouble.”
Abigail Ratts came off the bench to lead Salem with 12 for the game and Karly Sweeney followed up with 10. The Lady Lions canned only 16 of 43 shots from the field (37%) but hit 19 of 21 free throws. Salem had 13 turnovers for the 32 minutes.
“We’ll come out tomorrow and we’ll play with everybody else,” said Geltmaker. “We can play with them. We showed we can play with them. Just a few back and forth, and I think we can handle them.”
“We’ll just go back and start practicing,” he said. “I don’t think our kids are upset that much. They were upset they lost. They wanted to win this game really bad. We’ll be fine. We come back against Floyd Central, then we go up to Indian Creek. We get to play somebody we hadn’t seen in a while. That will help.”
Salem 14 6 17 16 – 53
North Harrison 12 9 12 14 – 47
Salem (9-1, 4-1 MSC) – Ratts 12, Sweeney 10, H. Tomlinson 9, Noel 8, Nice 7, Backherms 3, M. Tomlinson 2, Weber 2.
North Harrison (7-4, 4-1) – Burgher 14, Robertson 10, Saunders 8, Burns 5, Beyerle 3, Jacobi 3, Fulk 2, Moore 2.
3-pointers – Salem 2 (Noel 1, Sweeney 1).