Cougars top Marksmen for third place
Wade Bell, Clarion News
In a slow-paced game, the North Harrison Cougars beat Tell City’s game plan of slow ball for a 32-19 win. While it wasn’t a defense the Cougars had prepared for, North Harrison found a way around it to finish third in the Perry-Spencer Holiday Tournament.
“I don’t think that’s their normal way of slowing down the pace from what I’ve seen,” said North Harrison coach Lou Lefevre. “They wanted to do that with us, and they thought that that would work against us and, for a while, it did. Our team wasn’t really prepared to defend that well. We had to do it on the fly.”
The first quarter began with the Cougars holding a slight edge, then the Marksmen made a 7-0 run converting off two missed shots by the Cougars. Sawyer Wetzel finally stopped that run with a jumper, but the Marksmen finished the quarter with a six-point lead, 14-8.
The start of the second quarter saw the Cougars convert off two Tell City turnovers, Braden Jenkins scoring inside and Logan McIntire drilling a three-ball, to close the gap to one. McIntire added a pair of free throws to put North Harrison out in front, 15-14. Keaton Lloyd sank a pair from the charity stripe, and the Marksmen took back the lead at the half, 16-15.
“It wasn’t something I knew they might do,” Lefevre said. “I knew they were a ball-control team and were going to take their time and get what they wanted. It was a little bit of a surprise but not the first time. I’ve been coaching 30 years and I’ve seen that periodically, and it’s a strategy and it can beat you. I guess they felt like that would give them their best chance to beat us.”
North Harrison’s shooting went ice cold in the third quarter with only two field goals finding their way through the net. Kaden Chestnut drilled a three, putting the Marksmen up by four, 19-15. North Harrison struggled to find the basket, missing its first six shots. At the end of the period, however, Kaleb Kellems fired in a buzzer beater from nearly 60 feet to take the Cougars into the fourth quarter down one.
“We were stuck being up one point on five possessions, and we failed all five possessions,” Lefevre said. “I just said, ‘Hey, they’re not guarding Kaleb (Kellems). Kaleb is a nice shooter, and he’ll make the shots and, for once, I was right. That’s exactly what happened. They finally got it to him, and he caught it and shot it and made it.”
Riley Schneider put North Harrison up by one to start the fourth, then Tell City held the ball for more than two minutes while the Cougars were content with the lead and letting the clock run. The Marksmen misfired twice, but North Harrison turned the ball over.
The Cougars called timeout, then everything changed as McIntire picked Tell City’s pocket and Kellems got his second three of the game for a four-point lead, 23-19. At that point, the Cougars pushed the pace to full power on both offense and defense. Tell City missed all six of its field-goal attempts, while the Cougars fired in seven straight free throws in the last 1:15 to secure a 32-19 win for third place in the tournament.
“We made them make a lot of turnovers,” Lefevre said. “We made them throw it away, we made them travel, we knocked the ball away and we got steals. We took a charge. We just kept making plays over and over again. I thought it was going to be wasted because we couldn’t score for a while.
“They wanted to foul who they thought was our worst foul shooter, and Sawyer went to the line and hit four straight,” he said. “You make them pay for that.”
Kellems and Wetzel led the Cougars with eight points each. North Harrison was 8 of 27 (30%) from the field and 13 of 13 from the free-throw line. North Harrison had five turnovers.
“Some of the guys were frustrated because they were overplaying them and running two people at our best players, and then other guys stepped up and made a big shot,” said the North Harrison coach. “We just kept on playing ‘D,’ and that was awesome.”
Lloyd led Tell City with eight points. The Marksmen connected on 6 of 21 field goals (29%), hitting 1 of 11 in the second half and 3 of their 4 free-throw attempts. Tell City finished with 13 turnovers, nine of them in the second half.
“They had a good mindset, and I know these kids well enough that they’re not going to fall apart and not going to turn on each other,” Lefevre said. “We have some things we have to address and we’re addressing them and, hopefully, it will make a difference as we go forward so that, if we’re playing a good team and they’re playing a good game, we’re right in it with them and we can beat them.”
North Harrison 8 7 3 14 – 32
Tell City 14 2 3 0 – 19
North Harrison (6-2) – Kellems 8, Wetzel 8, McIntire 7, Jenkins 4, Hatton 3, Schneider 2.
Tell City (4-6) – Lloyd 8, Chestnut 6, Pruitt 3, Noble 2.
3-point goals – Tell City 4 (Chestnut 2, Lloyd 1, Pruitt 1).