Lady Cats put Jeffersonville on ice
Wade Bell, Sports Writer
It was a reunion of sorts at the North Harrison gymnasium Thursday night with former girls’ basketball coach Missy Voyles returning to her old stomping grounds, but this time wearing Jeffersonville red after becoming the head coach of the Lady Red Devils. The Lady Cats, with just a total of 13 players this season and new head coach Jamie Kolkmeier, turned that reunion into a battle zone and fought their way to a 61-54 win to start the new basketball season.
“That was a great win and a great victory for our team,” said Kolkmeier after getting his first win as the new head coach. “That was a great fight for our team. These kids play together. They work together. They talk, and they really get along. Not every team gets along like this team does … Anytime you win the first one it’s great, and anytime you beat Jeff or New Albany it’s great, too. It was exciting, and I was really proud of them.”
The Lady Cats didn’t get the best of starts, turning the ball over seven times during the first quarter while Jeffersonville coughed the ball up just three times. The Lady Cats hit just one of their first five shots as well, but their defense was keeping Jeffersonville from getting many good looks at the basket.
Ali Saunders drilled a three-ball to put the Lady Cats on top 7-5. The two teams traded baskets, then Jeffersonville went back in front with three free throws. Molly Coomer countered in the paint. The two teams traded paint again before the end of the period, and the Lady Cats had a 13-12 edge after one quarter.
“I felt like going in that we weren’t ready to play a game yet,” said Kolkmeier. “I’m sure Missy felt a little bit like that, too. Jeff is in that position. New coaches, new players. We’ve got two players who have played a lot.”
Diana Burgher put North Harrison up by three to start the second half, but that didn’t last long as the Lady Red Devils went downtown. Tatum McFarland and Sophia Reese drilled three straight three-balls, converting off a missed North Harrison shot and two turnovers to take a 21-15 lead. Skylie Burns quickly got one of those back, firing in her second three of the night.
Jeffersonville then went inside with Cadence Singleton and Nevaeh Bates scoring to put the Lady Red Devils lead back to seven, 25-18, forcing the Lady Cats to call timeout. Following the break, the Lady Cats missed their next three shots. Saunders put in two free throws to start an 8-0 run, Saunders and Burns following with threes behind the arc for a 26-25 North Harrison edge. Jeffersonville scored the next six, however. Burgher sank a pair of freebies just before the break, and the Lady Red Devils took a 31-28 to the locker room at halftime.
“When you’ve got two really good players and they bring everybody in, Ali’s driving everybody around, and are friends with all of the younger kids and older kids, these are such dynamic great personalities that it’s contagious,” Kolkmeier said.
Baskets went back and forth through the third quarter until the Lady Cats went on a 6-0 run for a 44-39 edge. Jeffersonville scored the last four points of the quarter, and North Harrison took a 44-43 lead into the fourth quarter.
Burgher scored the first points of the period but was then hit with her fourth foul. Burns converted from behind the arc off a Jeffersonville turnover, and North Harrison’s lead went back to six. The Lady Red Devils responded with a 6-1 burst to close the gap to one. Saunders cashed in three free throws, then Jeffersonville’s shooting went into a deep freeze with the Lady Red Devils missing their next seven shots.
North Harrison created some breathing room. Saunders scored at the end of an 8-0 run for a 58-49 advantage. Jeffersonville got one more three from Reese, but the Lady Cats scored the final three points of the game for a 61-54 win.
“We had to do a good job keeping the ball in front of us,” said Kolkmeier. “At times, we did well. At times, we didn’t do as well. We had to keep their points out of the paint. They’ve got two post players that are hard to guard. I thought we fought them, and every point they got tonight was earned.
“Once we got the lead in the second half, I would’ve liked to see us be aggressive but we spread at the same time making smart decisions. I think Ali is really hard to guard there, and Diana can be really hard to guard. When your third perimeter is Skylie Burns, that makes a pretty good perimeter unit.”
Saunders and Burgher led the Lady Cats with 19 points each, and Burns followed with 15 points. Emma Robertson, playing in her first varsity game, pulled down eight rebounds. North Harrison was 18 of 46 from the field (39%) and 19 of 25 from the charity stripe. The Lady Cats had 21 turnovers.
“Skylie Burns was awesome,” said the North Harrison coach. “She shot it really well. She made several big three-pointers. She was 3 for 6. She ends up with 15 points, three rebounds and great hustle and just played every minute, was in the right spots, guarded the ball for us most of the night, so I thought she was good.”
“I thought Emma Robertson was really good,” said Kolkmeier. “She didn’t score any points, but she had eight big rebounds. She did a great job on those inside players from Jeff and made it as difficult as she could. Molly (Coomer) and McKenna (Pearson) all did nice things. Audrey Tucker came in and Kyra Case, two sophomores, played some JV and then came in and played a couple of minutes for us. Audrey made two huge free throws. Kyra came in the second quarter when Diana got in foul trouble and when Emma needed a rest and really played well inside. I think she’s going to continue to get better.”
Aija Estes came off the bench to lead Jeffersonville with 16 points and Reese finished with 15. The Lady Red Devils put in 21 of 56 field goals (38%) and 6-of-17 free throws. Jeffersonville had 15 turnovers.
“We want to get better every day,” Kolkmeier said. “That’s our ultimate goal. You want to try to take advantages in front of you, and this was a great opportunity tonight. You’ve got a young Jeff team coming in with a new coach and trying to learn a lot of new things and, at this point, don’t know everything they want to do just like we don’t know everything we want to do.”
Jeffersonville 12 19 12 11 – 54
North Harrison 13 15 16 17 – 61
Jeffersonville (1-1) – Estes 16, Reese 15, Singleton 8, McFarland 5, Bates 5, Mason 3, Carter 2.
North Harrison (1-0) – Burgher 19, Saunders 19, Burns 15, Pearson 3, Tucker 3, Coomer 2.
3-point goals – Jeffersonville 4 (Reese 3, McFarland 1); North Harrison 6 (Burns 3, Saunders 2, Pearson 1).