Cougars clip Eagles behind Hatton’s 29
Wade Bell, Sports Writer
The North Harrison Cougars and Lanesville Eagles went into Friday night’s game with identical 8-3 records, and the game was going to make for a big change for one of them. The game went to the Cougars, who got a huge game out of 6-10 center Langdon Hatton, who towered above the Eagles in all aspects in North Harrison’s 58-41 win.
“It was a tough game, and they were very aggressive,” North Harrison coach Lou Lefevre said of Lanesville. “They made it difficult for us, and we were able to do enough to win the ball- game.”
“We’re not scoring enough in the last few games,” said Lanesville coach Mikel Miller. “Defensively not bad, but offensively we’ve got to be able to find a way to score more points. We’re in a struggle right now to do that.”
The first quarter proved to be a slower paced eight minutes than what either team was used to. North Harrison put up seven shots in the eight minutes, finding the bottom of the basket three times, while the Eagles put up six shots, hitting two to lead 6-4 at the end of the quarter.
“We never want it to be slow,” Miller said. “We’d rather play a lot faster than what we did. That was part of the struggle, too.”
“It was a game that, right off the bat, wasn’t in control,” Lefevre said. “Even having a lead, we never felt like we were in control until maybe under two minutes left in the game. They were very aggressive, and we just made mistakes. It made it a game you felt like you were never in command of. We were always a little bit rattled with what was going on.”
The pace picked up in the second quarter, and the Cougars had the hot hands, hitting six of eight attempts from the field. Four of those shots came from Hatton, who also cashed in a free throw as the Cougars ran out to a 19-10 lead. Logan McIntire added a pair of free throws to take the lead into double digits. The two teams traded three-balls before the end of the half, and North Harrison went to the locker room with a 24-13 gap on the Eagles.
“The first quarter we did a lot of things we talked about and focused on through the week,” Miller said.
“They picked up their pressure and started picking us up in the full court and three-quarter court with their 2-2-1 press,” said the North Harrison coach. “If a team is going to press and make it a full-court game, it’s going to go faster and teams are going to score more. We turned it over a lot, too. We did get some easy baskets off of it, but they also got some turnovers and scored off of it, too. That’s why they were always hanging around in the game.”
The third quarter saw mostly a trading session by the two teams, but Hatton was generating the most energy, hammering home two massive dunks in the period. The third period resulted in a tie, at 16, with the Cougars leading 40-29 with eight minutes left in the game.
The Eagles fought to regain some ground in the fourth, but North Harrison fought them off at each turn. Hatton hammered in his fourth dunk of the night, keeping the Cougars in front by 12. With 4:41 left in the game, Lanesville called time-out but it was for naught. The Cougars outscored the Eagles 10-3 in the final minutes and went on for the 58-41 win.
“Their shooters never really got comfortable and never really got that first wide-open shot that made them comfortable,” Lefevre said. “They have three or four good three-point shooters who didn’t shoot well tonight. … I think we did a pretty good job of having people near them with high hands and made them miss. They did get one wide-open easy one in the first half off of a made free throw by us and in the corner hit a three. But other than that, we did a pretty good job.”
“It’s just disappointing,” Miller said.
Hatton led the Cougars with 29 points, and McIntire followed with 13. North Harrison was 23 of 36 from the field (64%), scoring 44 of their points in the paint. The Cougars cashed in 11 of 17 free throws and had 14 turnovers.
“Twenty-nine points in a game in the 50s, that’s half your points,” Lefevre said of Hatton. “We did a good job of getting the ball to him early around the basket, but he did a good job of catching it and keeping it. Every time he got it, they were very aggressive. They were slapping at him and slapping at the ball and he was able to keep it and finish it much of the time and that’s not so easy. That was big.
“We also set him up very nicely. We got him the ball on drives. Our players were driving and drew someone away from him and then got him the ball and he was good enough to go up and catch it and keep it and finish it. He had a good game around the rim tonight.”
“We tried to limit his touches and get more pressure on their guards to not let the easy passes get down inside,” said Miller. “We doubled as needed, and we just didn’t get enough of that done tonight. We had some breakdowns, and we couldn’t afford to have them.”
Mason Miller led the Eagles with 14, and Jacob Wernert had 12. The Eagles connected on 16 of 36 field goals (44%) and 8 of 12 from the charity stripe. Lanesville had 13 turnovers for the 32 minutes.
“From a defensive standpoint, I thought we were pretty good for most of the game,” Lefevre said. “We did a good job, especially in the first half, of containing (Mason) Miller and not letting him get in the lane. He did a lot better job. He’s smart enough and he did some different things that he was able to get in the lane and score for them. He’s a big part of making their offense work. He wasn’t able to do that initially … ”
Lefevre said there is one area that still needs work but is something that’s not the easiest to coach.
“I still think we don’t always have our poise,” he said. “As teams throw different things at us, we sometimes lose our poise and we don’t do the right thing. We make mistakes. We make a few plays where we, against their pressure, just threw it out of panic it looked like or didn’t pick it up strong and foot-shuffled and lost the ball. …
“We lost our poise in the fourth quarter of the Floyd Central game, and at times tonight it looked like we might lose our poise again. That’s a big thing because, when you get the big games at the end of the year, it’s always going to be highly charged and the winning teams are going to pick up the pressure and you’ve got to be able to play with poise and use that pressure they’re giving to your advantage and drive it in. We haven’t always done that but, hopefully, we will.”
North Harrison improved to 10-3 on Saturday night and stayed unbeaten (6-0) in the Mid-Southern Conference with a 72-32 rout of visiting Salem.
Hatton had a double-double with 23 points and 10 rebounds. McIntire scored 20. Riley Schneider reached double figures in assists with 10. All told, the Cougars had 22 assists and just three turnovers.
Lanesville bounced back on Saturday with a 67-57 win over visiting Clarksville. The Eagles improved to 9-4.
Salem 9 9 5 9 – 32
North Harrison 14 17 21 20 – 72
Salem (1-12, 0-4 MSC) – Mahuron 8, Baughman 8, Howard 5, Humphrey 5, Tucker 3, Burton 3.
North Harrison (10-3, 6-0) – Hatton 23, McIntire 20, Wetzel 13, Fessel 5, Oakley 4, Higdon 4, Scheider 2, Kellems 1.
3-point goals – Salem 5 (Mahuron 2, Tucker 1, Humphrey 1, Baughman 1); North Harrison 4 (McIntire 2, Fessel 1, Hatton 1).
Clarksville 17 15 5 20 – 57
Lanesville 16 13 18 20 – 67
Clarksville (6-6) – Capps 18, Starks 17, Lamar 12, Forward 5, Page 5
Lanesville (9-4) – Powers 18, Mas. Miller 17, Schickel 12, Wernert 10, A. Smith 6, Patterson 4, Mad. Miller 2.
3-point goals – Clarksville 5 (Starks 3, Capps 1, Page 1); Lanesville 3 (A. Smith 1, Mas. Miller 1, Powers 1).
Lanesville 4 9 16 12 – 41
North Harrison 6 18 16 18 – 58
Lanesville (8-4) – Miller 14, Wernert 12, Powers 8, Smith 3, Purdy 2, Tidstrom 2.
North Harrison (9-3) – Hatton 29, McIntire 13, Fessel 4, Kellems 4, Schneider 4, Oakley 2, Wetzel 2.
3-point goals – Lanesville 1 (Wernert); North Harrison 1 (McIntire).