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Eastern stings North Harrison

Eastern stings North Harrison
Eastern stings North Harrison
North Harrison’s Meg Marinc, center, gets hacked by Eastern’s Gracie Lewis (22) and Kaylee McKinley in the second half of the Lady Cats’ 50-40 loss to the Lady Musketeers. Photo by Wade Bell
By Wade Bell, Sports Writer

The North Harrison Lady Cats and Eastern (Pekin) Lady Musketeers met Friday night for a Mid-Southern Conference matchup, and it didn’t go well for North Harrison, which struggled with its shooting. Eastern, meanwhile, got a 43-point combination from Ava Sowder and Kyia McKinley to lead the Lady Musketeers to a 50-40 win.

“We didn’t practice very well this week,” said North Harrison coach Jamie Kolkmeier. “We didn’t practice with much intensity. You can’t suddenly turn it on in a game. It’s just getting intensity and in focus. That’s hard for a lot of teams, and it was hard for us this week getting out.”

The two teams swapped the lead back and forth through most of the first quarter, the lead changing hands six times. Eastern led 13-12 at the end of the first eight minutes. Both teams put up 12 field-goal attempts in the period with the Lady Cats hitting five and Eastern getting four through the net.

The two teams traded baskets again early in the second period with North Harrison holding a slight advantage. Sowder finally drilled a three to put Eastern back in front by one, 20-19. Meg Marinc countered with a free throw, but Sowder drilled a second three to put the Lady Musketeers up 23-20 at halftime.

“We had to play decent defense, and we had to pass the ball more,” Kolkmeier said. “We dribbled it a lot more than we passed it. If you count it, we dribbled it as much as we passed it. I think we’ve got to pass it more. It’s ball reversals and have better spacing. We get busy kind of standing sometimes than when a game intensive comes.”

Eastern missed its first three shots to start the second half, and North Harrison missed its first attempt. Sydney Smith finally got two in the paint for the Lady Cats, but Eastern countered with a 7-0 run. Grace Goldman finally sank a three, but McKinley made her own 6-2 run for a 36-27 lead with one quarter to go.

“In a critical moment, you need to get that score, and that’s always hard for people to understand,” said the North Harrison coach. “When you’re down four, five or six points and there’s seven minutes left in the game, you need to score again. You can’t go down eight and give up another one on the other end.”

Eastern’s lead went to double digits to begin the fourth when McKinley converted off two missed Lady Cats’ shots for a 38-27 Eastern advantage. The two teams traded points again until Lydia Wilkins drilled a three, pulling North Harrison back within seven, 41-34. McKinley later countered with four free throws. Goldman and Audrey Tucker put in four, pulling North Harrison back within seven, 45-38, once again.

McKinley later put a single in from the charity stripe, but Goldman scored inside to close the gap to six. Eastern called timeout with 17 seconds left on the clock. Following the break, the Lady Musketeers kept control. Elizabeth Trueblood scored inside, and McKinley put in two final free throws for the 50-40 win.

“When we reverse it quick, you’ve got to be able to beat the defender on the first step,” Kolkmeier said. “We didn’t beat them. We let them stay equal with us all night. Every shot we shot, even on drives, were contested. When they beat us, we probably had six or seven instances where our help wasn’t there. They probably got 10 wide-open shots, and we didn’t get very many wide open shots, especially inside.”

Goldman led the Lady Cats with 14 for the night. North Harrison hit just 14 of 46 attempts from the field (30%) and 8 of 10 free throws. The Lady Cats finished with 16 turnovers for the 32 minutes.

“We didn’t shoot it great and, obviously, Sydney, who had been shooting pretty well for us, was one for 10,” Kolkmeier said. “She took a couple of bad ones, a couple of rushed ones and, at the end, didn’t have any legs to get there. We’ve got to get better at offense, and we’ve got to get better at a lot of things.”

“Sydney has to score the ball for us a little bit,” he said. “We’re not going to have a 25-a-game scorer but, even when we were able to get the ball inside, we weren’t able to create a little space to get open and give ourselves a chance. We ended up shooting a bunch of shots over the top ,and teams don’t score on those very well.”

McKinley led the Lady Musketeers with 26 points, canning 12 of 14 from the free-throw line. Sowder followed with 17, putting in four from behind the arc. Eastern put in 15 of 37 field goals (41%) and 15 of 19 from the free-throw line and committed just 12 turnovers.

“Obvious, they were making shots and we couldn’t guard (Sowder) the first half, then McKinley had a big second half,” Kolkmeier said. “I think at one point in the second half she had 16 of their 18 points in the second half. She scored a bunch of points. We tried to go back zone to mix it up, and they ended up scoring three baskets in the paint while we’re posting a zone. Then, we go back aggressive where it got us moving a little bit, and we gave up two or three backcuts to her.

“We had a couple of chances there with the ball, and we really didn’t execute out of our timeouts,” he said. “We took over at times, and we just lost focus there for a couple of seconds and didn’t get what we wanted out of it. We kind of panicked. Hopefully, you learn from those moments and get better the next time you have that opportunity.”

Eastern (Pekin) 13 10 13 14 – 50
North Harrison 12 8 7 13 – 40
Eastern (Pekin) – McKinley 26, Sowder 17, Lewellen 3, A. Trueblood 2, L. Trueblood 2.
North Harrison – Goldman 14, Wilkins 8, Marinc 7, Tucker 4, Shewmaker 3, Clunie 2, Smith 2.
3-pointers – Eastern (Pekin) 5 (Sowder 4, Lewellen1); North Harrison 4 (Wilkins 2, Goldman 1, Shewmaker 1).