Cougars dehorn Rams
Wade Bell, Sports Writer
The North Harrison boys’ basketball team has been used to playing at a brisk and sometimes brutal pace through pretty much the entire season against their opponents. Last Tuesday night, the pendulum swung the opposite direction during the Cougars’ visit to Paoli as the Rams brought the game to a crawl. The Cougars adjusted their game to the speed presented to them and dominated in a 41-24 win.
“We’ve talked about playing at the pace the other team is giving us,” said North Harrison coach Lou Lefevre. “Tonight, they decided they wanted to play it slow.”
The first quarter crept along through the entire eight minutes. North Harrison took eight shots, and Paoli took just six. Both teams hit just two each and, at the end of the period, the game sat at a 5-5 tie.
The Cougars gained some momentum in the second quarter and finally got some breathing room starting the period with a 9-4 run to lead 14-9. Brody Fessel and Langdon Hatton scored five quick ones, Hatton converting following a Riley Schneider steal. Paoli got a free throw, from Brett Bosley at the end of the half, and the Cougars had a 19-12 lead at the break.
The Rams spent most of their defensive focus on Hatton and Logan McIntire, with McIntire being chased all over the floor.
“They were using a triangle-and-two, and they were very physical,” Lefevre said.
The Cougars began the second half with a 7-2 burst for a 26-14 advantage and hit four of their first six shots. Bladen Patton scored his only basket of the game in the paint for the Rams, but McIntire countered with a three-ball. The Rams scored the next two baskets, pulling their deficit back into single digits, but North Harrison negated part of that with a deuce and free throw at the end of the period.
Paoli fought to stay in the game, keeping North Harrison’s lead at 10 through the first five minutes of the fourth quarter. The last three minutes the Cougars did their damage on the free-throw line, hitting six of eight for the 41-24 final score.
“We didn’t really expect (the slower pace),” Lefevre said. “Every time we’ve seen them, they’ve always wanted to go fast.”
McIntire led the Cougars with 13, and Kaleb Kellems followed with 10. The Rams held Hatton to eight for the game. North Harrison hit 12 of its 29 field-goal attempts (41%) and 14 of 24 free throws. The Cougars had six turnovers for the game.
McBride led the Rams with 10 points, and Bosley finished with eight. Paoli hit 10 of 23 field goals (43%) and 4 of 7 from the charity stripe. The Rams finished with 14 turnovers.
“Defensively, we made them make a lot of turnovers,” Lefevre said.
The Cougars will take an 18-3 record into this week’s Charlestown sectional and on Friday at 6 p.m. will play the winner of the Corydon Central-Silver Creek game, which took place last night (Tuesday).
“We’ve got nine days to prepare,” Lefevre said. “We’re going to be ready.”
North Harrison 5 14 13 9 – 41
Paoli 5 7 8 4 – 24
North Harrison (18-3) – McIntire 13, Kellems 10, Hatton 8, Wetzel 5, Schneider 3, Fessel 2.
Paoli (13-5) – McBride 10, Bosley 8, Moon 4, Patton 2.
3-point goals – North Harrison 3 (McIntire 2, Wetzel 1).