North Harrison upends Perry Central 45-43
Wade Bell, Sports Writer
North Harrison boys’ basketball coach Lou Lefevre wasn’t sure how his Cougars would come out of the locker room in their Perry-Spencer Classic holiday tournament game against Perry Central last Wednesday night. The night before his Cougars’ squad had put away undefeated South Spencer, the top-ranked team in class 2A.
The contest came down to the last second with a big-time hustle play by Logan McIntire for a 45-43 win.
“During the South Spencer game, I thought we played a good one and deserved to win,” said Lefevre. “Tonight, I think we were just more fortunate. We pretty much got outplayed the whole game, but what sometimes happens is the team that gets ahead gets a little tentative. When teams get tentative, they make mistakes and they gave us a chance to get a couple of stops we couldn’t get when they were going all out to score.”
Neither team shot the ball well in the first quarter. North Harrison hit just one of seven attempts from the field, and the Commodores connected on three of 10 shots. The Cougars got free throws from McIntire and Langdon Hatton, but free throws by the Commodores put Perry Central up 9-6.
The shooting percentages went up in the second quarter as North Harrison hit five of their eight shots with Perry Central connecting on five of six. The lead went back and forth through nearly all of the period, but in the last minute Perry Central canned two shots, with Ethan Edwards getting a buzzer beater to put the Commodores up by four, 21-17, at the end of the half.
“I thought they controlled the game the whole way,” Lefevre said. “They were in command. They were never way ahead, but it was always them in command of the game. We were always just trying to get back in it. We never really did up until the final minutes. It seemed like they had a four-point lead forever.”
Sawyer Wetzel drove inside for two to start the third quarter, but the Commodores countered with six for their biggest lead of the game, 27-19. McIntire scored the next four for the Cougars, rattling the backboard with a dunk to get the Cougars back within four. Reece Davis scored for the Commodores, but Ethan Oakley and Brody Fessel both scored in the lane, closing the game back within two, 29-27. Davis scored the last two points of the period, and Perry Central’s lead was back to four, 31-27, with one quarter to go.
“They were playing a very smart game,” said Lefevre. “The (Davis) kid, who’s not one of their leading scorers, just killed us. He killed us under the basket. He just manhandled us and got the spot he wanted. He put in a whole bunch of layups, whether it was off passes or off offensive rebounds.”
Patrick Mitchell put Perry Central up by six with a pair of freebies to start the final eight minutes. Oakley scored for the Cougars, but Jared Blum countered with a three-ball, putting the Commodores’ lead back to seven. McIntire drilled another three then came back moments later with two free throws, closing the gap to two. Davis and Mitchell put Perry Central up by six. McIntire then outscored the Commodores, 7-2, closing North Harrison’s deficit to one, 42-41.
“At some point, we had to just up the pressure,” said the North Harrison coach. “With about four minutes, we called a timeout just to say, ‘We’ve got to put more pressure on the wings.’ The people making passes were just weaving and making the perfect pass and there’s no pressure and they just pass and pass and pass and pass. We could have been doing that the whole game, and we weren’t. They were just running their offenses perfectly because it was easy for them to do so.”
Kaleb Kellems was called for his fourth foul, and Cameron Bland got one of two free throws for a 43-41 edge. Then, Perry Central’s Patrick Mitchell drew his fourth foul, and McIntire cashed in both freebies to tie the game at 43. The Commodores called time out but misfired twice at the basket when they went back on the floor.
The Cougars got the rebound following the second miss and immediately called timeout. When play resumed and with time running out, McIntire fired up a three but the ball bounced high off the rim. The North Harrison junior then had the hustle play of the game following the shot and grabbed the rebound. With a second to go, McIntire put the ball back up and this time the ball went in as time ran out for the 45-43 win.
“We made the most of those and were able to tie up the game and then we made one more stop and got two chances,” Lefevre said. “We got the board and on the last play it wasn’t a great play, but we wanted the last shot and we got it and we hustled and got the rebound putback. So, we won it on a hustle play by Logan, which is a good way to win it.”
“We got outplayed but, if you don’t give up, sometimes you can win games,” he said. “You just pull games out if you hang around and you don’t give up, so that’s kind of what happened. We got the win. You say it was a good game by us but it wasn’t. We got outplayed. They’re a good team, but they just played the game the way they wanted to and made it tough on us.”
McIntire led the Cougars with 24 points. The Cougars put in 15 of 36 shots from the field (42%) and connected on 12 of 15 free throws. North Harrison had 12 turnovers with none in the fourth quarter.
“They took away our big scorers,” Lefevre said. “They took LT (Hatton) out of the game pretty much. We didn’t get a lot of contributions out of the other guys, which we did in some of the other games where our lesser scorers came up and picked up the slack. That didn’t happen in this game at all. But good teams win when they don’t play very well, so maybe that’s a good thing for us.”
Davis led the Commodores with 12 for the game, and Bland followed with 11. Perry Central hit 15 of 34 field goals (44%) and 10 of 11 from the charity stripe. The Commodores finished the game with 11 turnovers.
“This game is a dangerous game for a team in that we weren’t good at all and we still won,” Lefevre said. “That’s not really a good thing in the long run. If you win, the players think everything is wonderful. If we had lost this game, maybe we would be examining how hard we’re playing or how well we’re doing things and all of that. Winning a game like this is sometimes, in the long run, bad for a team.”
Perry Central 9 12 10 12 – 43
North Harrison 6 11 10 18 – 45
Perry Central (4-3) – Davis 12, Bland 11, Mullis 7, Mitchell 6, Edwards 4, Blum 3.
North Harrison (6-2) – McIntire 24, Hatton 8, Oakley 7, Wetzel 4, Fessel 2.
3-pointers – Perry Central 3 (Bland 2, Blum 1); North Harrison 3, (McIntire 2, Oakley 1).