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Cougars crush Crawford County

Cougars crush Crawford County
Cougars crush Crawford County
North Harrison center Langdon Hatton (14) goes high to stop this shot by Crawford County’s Noah Adams in the first half of the Cougars’ 79-40 win. Photos by George Browning
Wade Bell, Sports Writer

In what may have been the most lopsided game in history in the decades-old series between the North Harrison Cougars and Crawford County Wolfpack basketball teams, the Cougars skinned and mounted the Wolfpack in a 79-40 rout that saw the Cougars hit three-quarters of their shots from the field.

“It’s the best team we’ve played,” said Crawford County coach Jerry Hanger. “Defensively, they took us totally out of our game. We couldn’t stop them. We’re really struggling on our outside shooting. We don’t have any shooting on the outside right now. They shot a high percentage, and we shot poorly. That’s going to result in a 40-point game.”

“We certainly were able to score,” said North Harrison coach Lou Lefevre. “We were able to put up a lot of points, and sometimes just the fact that the other team can’t stop you breaks down the other team’s kind of will. On defense, we were having a tough time guarding them and stopping them, but sometimes when the other teams stops scoring on you it takes away their will. It kind of makes you feel like you can never get back in the game because we’re scoring every single play.”

North Harrison’s Kaleb Kellems, center, finds himself in a tight spot between Crawford County’s Wyatt Allinger, left, and Preston Coleman in the first half.

At first, it appeared that it was going to be like any other Crawford County-North Harrison rival game with the two teams matching each other basket for basket through most of the first quarter. Crawford County tried to contain North Harrison junior, 6-10 center, Langdon Hatton but the Cougars were getting baskets from other sources. Later in the period, the Cougars put together their first decent run in a 7-1 burst to take a 23-14 lead after the first eight minutes of play.

“Charlestown started the same way with a triangle-and-two on Logan (McIntire) and LT (Hatton),” Lefevre said. “That’s good to stop them but really, in that three-man zone, it’s hard if you’ve got another inside threat and it’s hard if you’ve got another outside threat. Kaleb Kellems hit two three-points early then Braden (Jenkins) was scoring inside, and they pretty much had to try something else. … ”

In the second quarter, Crawford County fought to keep the game in single digits but the Cougars continued with the hot hands with McIntire drilling a pair of three-balls for a 29-18 Cougars’ advantage. Keith Brooks put in a deuce for the Wolfpack, but McIntire countered with a jumper. Sawyer Wetzel drove through the back door twice to score, increasing North Harrison’s advantage to 15, 35-20. Preston Coleman found three from behind the arc, and Crawford County went to the locker room down 12, 35-23, at halftime.

“It was McIntire in the middle of the game, but the kids that were going to have to beat us, the freshmen guards, hit the shots we wanted them to shoot,” Hanger said. “That happens every game. Giving them shots and they hit them.”

“Offensively, we did a good job,” Lefevre said. “ … I don’t think we had a lot of turnovers, and that’s huge because when we don’t turn the ball over, if we can at least get a shot, we’ve got some kids that can score, and then we’ve got kids that can rebound. So, if we get to the point where we can just take a shot, we have a great chance of scoring.”

Scoring is what the Cougars did a lot of during the third quarter. North Harrison opened up the second half with a 13-0 run for a 49-23 lead. The Cougars missed just one of their nine field-goal attempts in the eight minutes while Crawford County connected on just three of 10 shots.

The onslaught continued in the fourth quarter with the Cougars hitting 6 of 9 while the Wolfpack was just 3 of 11. The Cougars’ bench romped through the final minutes as well, and the Wolfpack fell by the 79-40 decision.

“North Harrison is the best team we’ve played this year,” Hanger said. “I think our effort was there. We just didn’t play very well … Our whole scheme of things for a week just backfired.”

“For the third quarter, they didn’t get a lot of easy stuff like the did in the first half,” Lefevre said. “That’s when we really pulled away, when we were able to stop them on most of their possessions, so that was good.”

“In too many games, we don’t get many times where we get to the point where we can take a reasonable shot and then have a chance to chase it,” he said. “We hit a lot of our first shots, and we also got some second chances. Eventually, the fact that they couldn’t stop us kind of broke their will.”

Hatton led the Cougars with 17 points, McIntire had 15 and Jenkins and Wetzel followed with 14 each. North Harrison put down 27 of 36 field-goal attempts (75%) scoring 38 points in the paint. The Cougars also put in 20 of 24 free throws and had eight turnovers for the 32 minutes.

“Wetzel has been another kid who’s given us some offense,” said the North Harrison coach. “He’s also made some nice passes when we were attacking off the press break to get it to our bigs. He’s been another guy who’s contributed offensively. Early on in the season, they wouldn’t guard him at all, and they wouldn’t guard (Riley) Schneider and they often wouldn’t guard Kellems. Now, … if they’re not guarding them, (we) make them pay for it. That really helps LT and that really helps McIntire … ”

“Kaleb, you have to guard Kellems,” Lefevre said. “I don’t know if people believed that at the beginning of the year, but if you don’t guard him on the perimeter, he’s going to hit the three-pointers. So, I’m happy when they don’t guard him on the perimeter. He’s got a shot as good as anybody’s going to get.”

“They played well, and we didn’t; that’s the bottom line,” Hanger said. “I’m not doing a very good job of coaching, obviously. The kids are playing hard, but we’re struggling. We’re just really struggling offensively. We can’t keep up with our lack of defense at times, so that’s killing us.”

Colten Nickelson led the Wolfpack with nine. Crawford County put in 15 of their 39 field-goals attempts (38%) and 8 of 10 free throws. The Wolfpack had 15 turnovers.

“We need to hit shots,” Hanger said, “and we need to work ourselves toward the bucket. We’re trying to draw fouls and get to the free-throw line. How many free throws did we shoot out of it, taking Nolan Barker’s (six) out of it? We didn’t attack the bucket. We’ve got to attack the bucket and get some shots. We settled for the three-pointers, and we settled for the pull-ups because of their size. The kids didn’t want to get their shots blocked.”

Despite the lopsided score, Lefevre said it wasn’t quite their best game of the season.

“Parts of it was,” he said. “Not turning the ball over was a big part of it. We played really well defensively against Madison. That was our best defensive game. Parts of this game were really good. The Madison game we turned it over like crazy against their pressure, so that’s why we barely won that. We played our best defense of the year.

“It’s a good win from an offensive standpoint because we beat them the way a lot of teams have been thinking they should play us, just take two guys out of the action and they won’t be able to score,” he said. “There were games this year where teams did that and we didn’t get 40 points. We can show that we’re going to make them pay for that, and they’re not going to be able to do it.”

Crawford County          14     9     8     9 – 40

North Harrison              23   12   21   23 – 79

Crawford County (8-11) – Nickelson 9, P. Coleman 8, Adams 7, Allinger 6, Z. Coleman 5, Barker 3, Brooks 2.

North Harrison (14-5) – Hatton 17, McIntire 15, Jenkins 14, Wetzel 14, Kellems 9, Schneider 7, Marrs 2, Higdon 1.

3-pointers – Crawford County 1 (P. Coleman 1); North Harrison 5 (McIntire 3, Kellems 2).