Cougars pounce on Rebels, 71-38
Alan Stewart, Contributing Writer
North Harrison’s boys’ basketball team kicked off its 2020-21 campaign by putting the “re” in “rebound” in a 71-38 defeat of South Central last Tuesday night in Ramsey.
The Cougars dominated the glass by a margin of 47 to 13, including a 26 to 9 mark on the defensive end, to limit South Central, which was 12 of 44 from the field, to a gaggle of one-and-done possessions.
North Harrison’s Langdon Hatton had 12 boards to go with his game-high 21 points, Logan McIntire had 17 with seven rebounds and Sawyer Wetzel added 16 points with nine boards (eight offensive) for the winners.
But as dominating of a performance as North Harrison had on the defensive end, Cougars head coach Lou Lefevre said it was rebounding on the opposite end that was the big difference.
“That was the story of the game, our offensive rebounding,” he said. “If you go back to the first half, I don’t think we made a lot of our first shots. We scored on just about every possession. Sawyer Wetzel was a beast on the boards and had eight offensive rebounds. We did some good things. I thought we did a good job against their scorer (Lucas Stewart) and maybe got him frustrated because we weren’t giving him many opportunities to shoot. We also did a good job limiting them to one shot so if they missed they didn’t get another chance like we did.”
South Central led just once, 2-1, when Stewart scored two of his team-high 13 points just a few ticks into the matchup. That’s when North Harrison’s Hatton gave his team the lead for good on the first of his three dunks in the game.
After trailing 21-11 at the first stop, South Central freshman Christian Kiper buried one from downtown before the hosts went on a 9-0 spurt. By the time the half-time horn sounded, the Rebels found themselves in a 39-17 hole that was just too much to overcome in the second half.
Hatton closed out the third quarter with five straight points for a 52-25 lead and, from there, the only thing left in doubt was how big of a margin the hosts would win by.
“I thought for the most part I felt like our effort was really good. Early in the game I liked how we ran, and I think we got a little discouraged and we didn’t keep that up, and then Wesley (Wilson) got in foul trouble. If we could have got some rebounds earlier in the game, I think we could have made it a lot different,” South Central coach Greg Robinson said. “We have a lot to work on, and it’s early. A lot of credit to North; they are pretty good. They’ve got a guy who has signed Division I and another kid I think may be Division I as well and they have size, which we don’t, and that’s a perfect storm. I told the kids if we do a better job rebounding, we might beat a team that’s bigger than us because of our quickness. But we’re not going to until we shore up those second-shot opportunities.”
Colton Cahill added seven for the winners, and Hunter Whittaker had four.
After Stewart, South Central had eight points from Wilson, four apiece from Kiper and Maddox Baker, with Bryce Dixon and Jack Schmelz each sinking a triple for their only points.
North Harrison was 29 of 57 (51%) from the field, including 2 for 14 from beyond the arc, and went 11 of 16 at the line. The Rebels were 12 of 44 (27%) from the floor (5 for 22 on triples) and sank nine of 15 foul shots. Turnovers were fairly close at 20 for the hosts and 15 for South Central, while the Cougars dished out 19 assists to six for the Rebels.
“What we need to do is our guys need to try to do a better job of keeping their guy off the boards to make sure they don’t get the rebound. It’s not even so much that we need to get every single rebound, but we need to do a better job of keeping their guys from getting them,” Robinson said. “At the very end, we did a little better at doing that. We’re not out-jumping these guys.”
Lefevre said the atmosphere for the season-opener was unlike any he’s experienced before.
“Honestly, it felt like the first game in a hospital ward. Not a lot of people feel comfortable coming to the game. We had a 750-person limit, and I’m sure we didn’t get anywhere close to that,” he said. “People are afraid to come out or afraid they may not get in and that sort of thing and want to stay home to watch it, which I understand.
“It wasn’t a real charged up atmosphere,” the North Harrison coach continued. “The band’s not here; the student section is very small, but all that stuff is frills. If you are a serious player, you don’t focus on the frills. It’s not the meat and potatoes. If you focus on the meat and potatoes, then you get to enjoy the meat and potatoes and just have to hope you don’t burn the potatoes and it’ll all taste good.”
The annual rivalry game between North Harrison and Corydon Central was scheduled for Friday; however, the Panthers had to postpone the matchup due to quarantining for COVID-19. A make-up date has been set for Wednesday, Dec. 23.
The Cougars are set to take on Class 3A top-ranked Silver Creek at home on Friday, Dec. 11, while the Panthers’ next scheduled game is Saturday, Dec. 12, when they host Henryville.
On Saturday, the Cougars fell 56-38 to Heritage Hills, ranked second in Class 3A and coming off a 22-3 season.
South Central was to host Crawford County on Saturday but had to postpone the contest due to COVID-19.
South Central 11 6 8 13 – 38
North Harrison 21 18 13 19 – 71
North Harrison (1-0) – Hatton 21, McIntire 17, Wetzel 16, Cahill 7, Whittaker 4, Higdon 2, Kellems 2, Schneider 2.
South Central (0-1) – L. Stewart 13, Wilson 8, Baker 4, Kiper 4, Schmelz 3, Dixon 3, Cundiff 2, Jones 1.
3-point goals – South Central 5 (Dixon 1, Kiper 1, Schmelz 1, L. Stewart 1, Wilson 1); North Harrison 2 (McIntire 2).