Floyd Central puts blitz on Lady Cats
Wade Bell, Sports Writer
When North Harrison senior Ali Saunders graduated early in order to start the spring semester at Valparaiso University, it left a gaping hole in several areas for the Lady Cats basketball team. Besides having to find a new identity, the team has holes to fill in leadership, scoring, ball handling and rebounding. Coach Jamie Kolkmeier said the team would have to learn to move on and take on a new challenge.
“All we can do is play now,” said the North Harrison coach after the Lady Cats suffered a loss last Tuesday to visiting Floyd Central. “We can’t worry about who’s here or who’s not here. This is our team, and, obviously, we’ve got to improve some things, but this is who we are and move on from this point forward. That’s all we can do.”
For the Lady Highlanders, the 49-34 win gave Floyd Central a surge of confidence going into the last stretch of games of the regular season.
The first half looked like the kind of game it was expected to be, with both teams going at each other from the beginning. The Lady Highlanders grabbed an early 8-4 lead following a three ball by Peyton Kochert. Molly Coomer immediately countered, hitting from behind the arc, but Nora Gibson and Keegan Kaiser combined for five and a 13-7 edge. Coomer scored before the end of the period, and Floyd Central’s lead was four, 13-9, at the end of the period.
Kaiser converted on a North Harrison turnover to start the second period, but Diana Burgher and Kyra Case countered with back-to-back three-balls to tie the game at 15. Kaiser scored again, but Burgher converted twice with a three and a deuce. Chloe Shewmaker added a three, and the Lady Cats had a 23-17 lead. CJ Celichowski scored inside for the Lady Highlanders, but Lydia Wilkins scored the last five of the half to finish off a 19-6 run for the Lady Cats for a 28-19 lead at halftime.
“Kyra hit a three and Chloe hit a three, and we were speading it out and hit a few shots,” said Kolkmeier. “They came out at hafltime, even though they were in a zone, and picked up their pressure and got after us a little bit more and it really bothered us.”
Kasier said they knew Burgher, who scored eight points in the second period, could light up the nets if given the chance.
“She’s a great player, and Keegan did a really good job on her,” Gianfagna said. “When we switched, the girls picked her up, too. She’s a really good player and now she’s going to see all of the attention with Ali out.”
“(Kaiser and Burgher) play together on AAU teams, and that’s a big deal to them,” he said. “We’ve been talking. At Salem, we were real close. Bloomington North, we were really close. You just have to believe, and it finally came through tonight in the second half.”
That second half turned into a disaster for the Lady Cats, and Floyd Central went on a rage. Celichowski and Kaiser converted on a North Harrison turnover and missed shot, closing the gap to five. Burgher sank a three-ball, which turned out to be North Harrison’s only points of the period. Floyd Central finished out the quarter with an 8-0 run, leaving the game tied at 31 with one quarter to go.
The Floyd Central rage continued into the fourth as Kendall Brown drilled a three to start a 10-0 run. North Harrison didn’t score again until just over two minutes to go in the game when Wilkins scored in the paint. The Lady Highlanders finished out the game with a 9-1 run to go on to the 49-34 win.
“The second half was much better,” said Gianfagna. “The first half we were up six, and I think they made 11 of 16 shots in the first half, and we just drew a big heart in the locker room on the board.
“Defense was hard,” he said. “We gave up six in the second half. We gave up 19 in the second quarter. That’s the big deal. I’m proud of all of my kids. It was a big step up. The big thing we’ve been talking about was we’ve got to get to the free-throw line more, and tonight we got there 15 times. When we haven’t got to double digits, that means you’re not attacking the basket.”
“We didn’t react well when they sped us up,” Kolkmeier said. “We got stationary and started trying to do everything just off the dribble. They got real physical. They got real handsy, and we just didn’t handle that very well. They were guarding us with a hand on us all night, and we kind of backed away from that rather than meeting that aggression.”
Celichowski led the Lady Highlanders with 17, and Kaiser followed with 16 points. Floyd Central put in 19 of 47 field goals (40%) and 9 of 15 free throws. The Lady Highlanders had seven turnovers for the game.
Burgher led the Lady Cats with 14 for the game. North Harrison connected on 13 of 23 field-goal attempts (57%) but hit just 1 of 4 free-throws attempts. The Lady Cats finished with 19 turnovers.
“We panicked a lot,” Kolkmeier said. “A lot of our other players stopped looking for their shot. As soon as the pressure picked up, they didn’t look at the basket. They didn’t even face up, so we ended up with a couple of shots we weren’t capable of shooting. We tried to make some drives, and we didn’t react to the drives. When the one girl would drive it, we would be in somebody’s way all of the time and just really played nervous.”
“We’ve got to find some ways to score,” he continued. “We missed free throws and just rushed … We’re probably not going to win any high-scoring games but at times, defensively, we were a little solid. We had a few breakdowns, but there was a little stretch where they were cutting into that lead. Late in the third quarter, we let them have three straight layups. They got six points in about a minute and a half, and they were way too easy. So, we’ve got a lot to work on.”
Floyd Central 13 6 12 18 – 49
North Harrison 9 19 3 3 – 34
Floyd Central – Chelichowski 17, Kaiser 16, Brown 6, Gibson 5, Kochert 3, Miller 2.
North Harrison – Burgher 14, Coomer 7, Wilkins 7, Case 3. Shewmaker 3.
3-point goals – Floyd Central 2 (Brown 1, Kochert 1); North Harrison 6 (Burgher 3, Case 1, Coomer 1, Shewmaker 1).