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Burgher the Big Mac in 58-40 win over FC

Burgher the Big Mac in 58-40 win over FC
Burgher the Big Mac in 58-40 win over FC
Floyd Central’s Keegan Kaiser, right, reaches for the ball against North Harrison junior Diana Burgher in the first half of last Tuesday’s contest in Galena. Burgher scored a career-high 31 points on the night as North Harrison defeated the Lady Highlanders, 58-40. Photo by Alan Stewart
Alan Stewart, Contributing Writer

North Harrison varsity girls’ basketball coach Jamie Kolkmeier said he’d been looking for 6-1 junior forward Diana Burgher to get more aggressive in the scoring column this season.

Unfortunately for host Floyd Central, Burgher picked last Tuesday night in Galena to do just that.

Notching 15 points in the first half and 16 more in the second, to go along with seven rebounds and a perfect 5-5 night at the foul stripe, Burgher made her presence known in a big way in North Harrison’s 58-40 victory over the Lady Highlanders.

“We needed her to have a big night, and she hadn’t put it together offensively like I thought she was capable of at times,” Kolkmeier said. “I think it helps us having another big scorer there, and I think maybe we were starting to get too reliant on just one person. I thought we got some good contributions from some other people, Skylie (Burns) and those girls. I thought McKenna (Pearson) probably played one of her best games of the year, and Kyra (Case) came in and did pretty well and knocked down a shot for us.

“But as for Diana, she needed a night in which she believes she can be a big scorer for us, and tonight I think she did that,” he said.

In a matchup of teams on two-game losing streaks coming into the affair, North Harrison (6-3) flexed its muscles early behind Burgher and junior guard Ali Saunders, who tallied eight and six points, respectively, to push the Lady Cats to a 16-5 lead at the first stop.

Hampered by seven turnovers, the only buckets by the hosts in the opening period came on a pair of free throws by junior Keegan Kaiser and a triple by junior Kendall Brown that made it 6-5 in favor of North Harrison. From there, the Lady Cats went on a 10-0 run to the break, shooting 8 of 12 from the field along the way.

“We dribbled the ball off our leg once, we lost one possession when we dribbled it through traffic and the ball wasn’t getting reversed where it needed to go when we had some opportunities at some transition buckets,” Floyd Central coach Randy Gianfagna said.

Though they would hit only 3 of 8 from the field in the second, the Lady Highlanders (3-7) stayed aggressive in the quarter and were able to get to the foul stripe eight times. Unfortunately, only three found the mark. Grace Suer scored four of her 13 points in the period for Floyd Central, which trailed 32-14 at the intermission.

Floyd Central found its footing in the third, scoring as many in the period (20) as it did in the other three combined.

“We tried to open the floor up a little bit,” Gianfagna said. “We weren’t spaced out enough to allow the cutters space to get to the basket.”

The Lady Cats opened their largest lead of the game at 35-14 on a Saunders’ triple to start the second half, but about a minute later Burns picked up her third foul of the contest. Floyd Central chipped away at the deficit — behind Kaiser, Suer and Kendall Brown — as the club went to more of a deliberate spread offense that resulted in drivers to the basket where the trio would either be fouled or score.

“In the first half, we didn’t get the ball where it needed to go and we talked about needing space to give the drivers room to work,” Gianfagna said.

A three-ball by Kaiser with 15 seconds left made it 45-34, but a pair of Burgher free throws in the waning seconds gave North Harrison a 47-34 advantage heading to the final stanza.

The Lady Highlanders would get no closer, scoring just three field goals during the final eight minutes.

After Burgher, Saunders knocked down 15 points, Burns had five, Molly Coomer had single deuces in the first and third quarters for her four points and Sydney Smith had a lone fourth-quarter free throw to round out the Lady Cats’ scoring.

On Floyd Central’s side, Suer and Kaiser shared high-team honors with 13 apiece, with Brown scoring 12. Madi Wood scored two points.

Overall, North Harrison was efficient from the field at 23 of 44 (52%). The Lady Cats were 10 of 15 at the line, went 2 of 12 beyond the arc and out-rebounded the hosts 30-24. Floyd Central was 15 of 37 (41%) from the floor, 2 of 10 on triples and was 8 of 16 at the charity stripe. Turnovers were nearly even with Floyd Central coughing up the ball 14 times and forcing 13 North Harrison miscues.

“The things we talked about, we needed space for drivers to have room to work, we wanted to keep Burgher off the boards and we wanted to try to limit Saunders. We did a decent job on Saunders and held her below her average, but Burgher, even when she’d miss, she’d get her own rebound. I think they averaged one point per possession and we averaged 0.7 and that’s a big difference over the course of the game,” Gianfagna said. “I thought (Mandy) Hess, she didn’t score but she did a decent job on Saunders for us. We just have to keep pushing forward.”

Kolkmeier said the Lady Cats are still finding their way.

“I thought we started to get in more rhythm than we did last week when we didn’t have much rhythm or consistency; but we had been quarantined a week and then came back and practiced Monday and played Tuesday,” Kolkmeier said. “The seven girls who play the majority of the minutes for us, since the Jeffersonville game, have practiced together just one time. And with COVID-19, everybody is dealing with irregulars there but we’ve just not been able to get into any kind of a rhythm. Coming off quarantine and missing so many players in practice and it always seems like you are missing a starter or two. Tonight, I felt like we started getting back into rhythm and continuity and knowing what we were doing.”

“I thought we made some hurried and bad decisions. Sometimes out there it looks like we are the ones who are down 13. We played a little fast and a little out of control and then, again, (Floyd Central) got some of their scores on straight-line drives. I think it was three out of four possessions they did that, and it resulted in either a layup or a foul. How do you stay aggressive and stay smart? We walk that fine line.”

The Lady Cats are scheduled to take part in the Indian Creek Tournament on Saturday at noon against Bloomington North (4-8). In the other bracket, Purdue Poly Englewood (8-3) is set to take on the host Braves (7-4) at 10:30 a.m. The losers of the first two games will play at 5 p.m. with the championship set for 6:30.

Floyd Central, which fell to Jeffersonville, 39-26, the following night, plans to travel to Austin (6-7) Saturday.

North Harrison              16   16   15   11 – 58

Floyd Central                  5     9   20     6 – 40

North Harrison (6-3) – Burgher 31, Saunders 15, Burns 5, Coomer 4, Case 2, Smith 1.

Floyd Central (3-7) – Kaiser 13, Suer 13, Brown 12, Wood 2.

3-point goals – North Harrison 2 (Burns 1, Saunders 1); Floyd Central 2 (Brown 1, Kaiser 1).