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Highlanders slip past NH

Highlanders slip past NH
Highlanders slip past NH
North Harrison sophomore Logan McIntire made some noise for the Cougars with this jam following a steal in the fourth quarter against Floyd Central. Photos by Wade Bell
Wade Bell, Clarion News

The North Harrison Cougars came into their game against visiting Floyd Central with upset on their minds Saturday night and started the game on fire against the Highlanders. However, Floyd Central had a huge second quarter then held off the Cougars to secure a 63-58 win to give Highlanders’ coach Todd Sturgeon his 100th win in his sixth year of coaching at the school.

Highlanders slip past NH
The North Harrison Cougars tripled up on Floyd Central’s Jake Heidbreder in the first half but the Floyd junior still went on to finish with a career high 33 points in the Highlanders’ 63-58 win.

“I didn’t score anything,” said Sturgeon of his 100th win. “We’ve had good players, and I’m proud we got to 100 pretty fast. I think we’re in the top five in the state in winning percentage the last five-plus years. To do it that quickly, you’ve got to have good players. That’s the reason we’ve got one at Indiana State, one at Wabash, one at Marion, one at Hanover. We’ve got at least four more college players in there now, so that’s eight in six years we’ve had college players.”

“The kids came out there to play the game,” North Harrison coach Lou Lefevre said of his team. “They’re doing good things to get us points. They’re doing a wonderful job on the boards. They were ferocious the whole game and that probably really kept us in the game more than anything else. But, when you’re trying to beat a good team defensively, you have to take away the other team’s strengths. You have to know what the other team wants to do and you have to make it hard for their strong players to do what they want to do, and we did not do that well.”

North Harrison burned up the nets to start the game, hitting its first five shots, including a pair of three-balls. The Cougars put in nine of their 15 shots in the quarter while Floyd Central was 5 of 9. North Harrison made a 9-3 run in the last half of the period and had a 20-13 lead at the end of the first eight minutes.

The Highlanders, who were coming off a 49-46 loss to Jeffersonville the night before on a last-second shot, got their wheels back on the track in the second period with a 21-8 run. The Highlanders buried three shots from downtown. North Harrison struggled with the ball, hitting just 3 of 8 shots from the field, and Floyd Central took a 34-28 lead to the locker room at halftime.

Sturgeon said he has some concerns about how much his team would still be thinking about that loss on their trip to Ramsey.

“I think we seemed to have energy,” he said. “I was concerned about that coming down here. I just really think (LT) Hatton and (Braden) Jenkins brought so much energy and posting up in there, so hard where we’ve got a lot of freshmen and sophomores guarding inside they pushed us around. If those two guys play like that through the remainder of their season, they’re going to win a bunch of games.”

“We came into the game saying we were going to get into the ball and make it difficult for them to make entry passes, and I saw no evidence of that in the first quarter,” said Sturgeon. “We did kick the ball loose a few times in the second quarter. The second quarter, I thought, was the critical quarter of the game because we’re down seven at the break and go in (to halftime) up six. I thought that was a big deal to get ourselves back in control of the game.”

“We got the ball inside to both LT and Braden, and they did damage inside, scoring inside, and then they did a better job getting second chances off the boards,” Lefevre said. “They both did a fantastic job on the offensive boards throughout the game. That was their gift to us, letting us having so many second chances.”

Floyd Central’s lead went to double-digits with Heidbreder going inside, and Cole Harritt drilled a pair of threes. The Cougars had a 6-2 response to close the gap to six, but the Highlanders answered with a deuce and took an eight-point advantage into the final period.

Jenkins scored the first points of the final period for the Cougars, but Heidbreder countered with five. Hatton put in five for North Harrison, but Heidbreder canned two freebies. The Highlanders then turned the ball over twice, the second coming from McIntire on a steal and dunk. The remainder of the game saw the two teams trade baskets with Floyd Central holding on for a 63-58 win.

“You keep playing, you keep playing, you keep playing,” Lefevre said. “You don’t give up. If you open a window, you get a chance to go through the window. We had a chance to get through the window and got it down to one possession where we could have got a stop or we got a steal and we would have had a chance to tie the ballgame up.”

Heidbreder led the Highlanders with a career-high 33 points, most of those coming in the paint. Harritt hit for 13 with three triples, and Grant Gohmann followed with 11. The Highlanders put in 21 of 39 field goals (54%) and 9 of 14 free throws. Floyd Central had nine turnovers.

“You make some decisions on the way you’re going to guard,” said Sturgeon. “(Jake) was fantastic picking out spots to drive and slither in there and finishing in the big guys. A couple of Division 1 schools were coming in to watch him and Hatton tonight. I think Furman and Lipscomb were coming in here.”

“Heidbreder is a player you can’t guard with one person,” Lefevre said. “When he drives, you can’t let him get to the rim, and he just got to the rim over and over and over. We didn’t have people as ready as we needed to be to help and stop him. So, he got to the rim so many times.”

Logan McIntire led North Harrison with 20 points, and Langdon Hatton finished with 16 points. Braden Jenkins followed with 12 for the Cougars, who put in 22 of 42 field goals (52%) and 14 of 19 free throws. North Harrison also had nine turnovers.

“Everybody is bodying up LT (Hatton) front and back,” said the North Harrison coach. “I thought we did a good job getting the ball inside and not losing it when he was double-teamed. We didn’t have the open guy get to where he needed to get to be open.”

“Over all, we handled the pressure better than we’ve done in a lot of the games,” Lefevre said. “They came out the second half and tried to ramp up the pressure, and we handled it well enough that it didn’t open up a big lead for them and have us to stay in and have a chance at the end.”

“ … they battle us every year,” Sturgeon said. “I’m thrilled to get anything out of this today.”

“It was an exciting game to watch,” Lefevre said. “The kids did a lot of good things, but it’s always difficult when you know if you had done just a few more doable things, you could win. That’s when it’s really fun. It’s really fun when you win these games, not when you lose close.”

Floyd Central                 13   21   15   14 – 63

North Harrison              20     8   13   17 – 58

Floyd Central (9-3) – Heidbreder 33, Harritt 13, Gohmann 11, Tripure 3, Washington 2, Purvis 1.

North Harrison (8-5) – McIntire 20, Hatton 16, Jenkins 12, Kellums 5, Wetzel 4, Higdon 1.

3-point goals – Floyd Central 8 (Harritt 3, Heidbreder 3, Gohmann 1, Tripure 1); North Harrison 2 (Kellums 1, McIntire 1).