Cougars shut down Warriors
Wade Bell, Sports Writer
The North Harrison Cougars won another important Mid-Southern Conference game Saturday night when they topped visiting Scottsburg in a 62-42 shellacking. The Cougars are clean in the MSC with a 4-0 record with another important game Friday night on the road at Eastern in Pekin.
“It’s a big conference win for us,” said North Harrison coach Lou Lefevre. “I don’t think we’re really playing great basketball, but I hope at some point we will. I think we’re not going to be able to win the conference games, the rest of our conference games, the way that we’re playing. This was a night where a lot of teams could have beat us on because, just defensively, we weren’t doing a great job.”
The early part of the game was a lot closer than the Cougars were liking. North Harrison made the first big run, jumping out to an 11-3 lead with Logan McIntire draining three shots from behind the arc in the run. The second half of the quarter, however, belonged to the Warriors, who made an 11-5 run with Kody Clancy and Treyton Owens hitting from behind the arc. North Harrison’s lead was two, 16-14, at the of the period.
The two teams stumbled their way through the first minute of the second quarter, then Hayden Cutter scored inside to tie the game at 16. North Harrison was quick to respond as Langdon Hatton put in a deuce-and-one and Trey Walters converted on a Scottsburg turnover for a triple. Javis Rousch added two to that, taking North Harrison’s lead to eight. Scottsburg gained back some ground with a 7-2 burst. Free throws by Riley Schneider and another deuce-and-one by Hatton, however, gave the Cougars a 31-25 lead at the break.
“We had a hard time with them,” Lefevre said. “We had a hard time guarding them, especially in the first half. We had a hard time stopping (Cutter) inside, and (Owens) was getting anything he shot and he was dishing to other shooters. There was a period of time where it didn’t look so great for us. I was happy with a minute left in the first half we were up six and I said, ‘Let’s close this half down and get in with some sort of a lead and then go from there and see if we could do a little better,’ and we did.”
North Harrison scored the first eight points of the third period for some breathing room to a 36-25 advantage. Scottsburg gained some traction later in the period with an 8-2 burst as Owens and Dalton Daniels drilled three-balls in the run to close the gap to six. McIntire sank a buzzer beater at the end of the period, and North Harrison’s lead was 46-37, with eight minutes to go in the game.
The Cougars pushed their lead back to double digits early in the fourth with an 8-3 run and a 55-40 gap. The Cougars went on to outscore the Warriors 16-5 in the quarter with Hatton putting down a pair of spikes to close the Scottsburg coffin in the 62-42 win.
“We played a little better defense in the second half and, when you play better defense, it makes your offense better,” said the North Harrison coach. “You make them throw it away. You make them miss. You get going in transition when they’re not scoring. The other team doesn’t usually play as enthusiastic if they’re not scoring. So, as the defense got better, the game changed and we were able to pull away and we were able to get more easy chances on offense.”
Hatton led the Cougars with a 20-point night, and McIntire followed with 18 for the game. Kaleb Kellems also had a good night with 13 points. North Harrison put in 22 of its 46 field-goal attempts (48%) and 12 of 16 free throws. The Cougars had eight turnovers for the game.
Lefevre said Kellems has been in a shooting slump the last few games.
“He was a pretty good shooter for us last year,” Lefevre said. “I don’t know if his mechanics have changed. I’m not a shot doctor, so I don’t know. He just hasn’t shot well the whole season. Not just in the games, but he hasn’t shot well in practice either. Once he hit that one, I think it lifted his spirits and then he did a lot of good things. He’s pretty good at not making turnovers and getting the ball to people. Tonight, he made some big offensive plays and got some big baskets for us, too.”
The North Harrison coach said his big guy, Hatton, still has some improvements to make before the end of the season.
“Teams are making him do things that I think that maybe he’d be better off not doing and making different maneuvers than the ones he’s doing,” Lefevre said. “He hasn’t had an easy time of it. He didn’t have an easy time of it tonight until the fourth quarter when he got some big baskets for us and hit some free throws for us. He’s capable of giving us more on both ends of the court, and that’s what I expect him to be able to do. Next week will be an awesome time for him to raise his game for us. That’s what everyone should be trying to do.”
Lefevre also had praise for Schneider, a sophomore who was starting for Ethan Oakley, who was out with strep throat.
“He did a good job,” said the Cougars coach. “We’re missing a starter (Oakley), and so he went from playing a few minutes off the bench to playing the bulk of the game and he did a solid job. With Sawyer Wetzel in foul trouble the whole game, we needed him to play well and he did. That’s good for him.”
“That’s what you need,” he said. “When guys are out and guys are in foul trouble, you need other people to come up. Trey Walters came in in the second quarter and made a couple of baskets and that was nice, too.”
“It’s good when you’re getting contributions from everybody,” said Lefevre. “We got contributions from a lot of different people, and that’s always a good thing for your team. That’s not just going to be one or two guys to carry you because one or two guys can be shut down if the other guys aren’t going to be able to contribute. So, we got a lot of that tonight and that was good.”
Scottsburg 14 11 12 5 – 42
North Harrison 16 15 15 16 – 62
Scottsburg (2-9, 2-4 MSC) – Owens 14, Cutter 13, Clancy 9, Daniels 3, Zellers 3.
North Harrison (7-2, 4-0) – Hatton 20, McIntire 18, Kellems 13, Schneider 6, Walters 5.
3-point goals – Scottsburg 7 (Clancy 3, Owens, 2, Daniels 1, Zellers 1); North Harrison 6 (McIntire 4, Kellems 1, Walters 1).