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Lady Pack crush North Harrison

Lady Pack crush North Harrison
Lady Pack crush North Harrison
Crawford County’s Natalie Stroud fought to hold her ground in the second half as North Harrison’s Sydney Smith tried to strip the ball away in the second half of the Lady Pack’s 72-43 win. Photo by Wade Bell
By Wade Bell, Sports Writer

The North Harrison Lady Cats ventured into the Wolf’s den at Crawford County High School last Tuesday night and came out in shreds after suffering a 72-43 mauling. The Lady Pack launched an all-out assault from the start of the game and never let up for the 29-point, lop-sided win.

“I think we’re finally getting it together, pushing the ball up the floor,” said Crawford County coach Chris Broughton. “We’re sharing the ball a lot. We’re not in for ourselves. We’re in it for each other. We’re in it to care for each other. I feel like ever since we’ve been able to figure that out you see the numbers of the score going up. You see better plays on defense. You see us sharing the ball and caring for each other, giving you rewards on defense.”

The Lady Cats had come off a seven-point loss just days before to a good Charlestown team, and North Harrison coach Jamie Kolkmeier had hoped to carry that energy into the Crawford County game. What he didn’t expect was the Lady Pack coming at them like a buzz saw.

“These guys were more aggressive than Charlestown was on that night,” Kolkmeier said. “They got into us, and we didn’t handle it. We turned the ball over a lot and didn’t make any shots. We didn’t shoot a lot of good ones. And, of course, we left them open for a lot of them.”

Crawford County came out blazing to start the game, hitting nine of its 13 shots from the field in the first quarter, four of those going in from downtown. Meanwhile, the Lady Cats struggled with the their shooting, hitting just three of 11 as the Lady Pack took a 23-9 lead after the first eight minutes of play.

“The attitude coming into this game was intensity, intensity, intensity and keep turning it up,” said Crawford County sophomore Maddyson Sturgeon, who bottomed out three of those four triples in the first quarter. “We came into this game looking to score, score, score and stop everybody that we could and contain Sydney Smith and contain Grace (Goldman). I think we did a pretty good job of that tonight.”

The Lady Cats finally got some traction going on offense in the second quarter with Lydia Wilkins and Smith putting down three balls. The problem was North Harrison connected on just three field goals in the eight minutes. The Lady Cats did get some chances from the charity stripe to help, but Crawford County kept its momentum with the long ball for a 41-25 lead at halftime.

“We’ve got to play well,” Kolkmeier said. “We’ve got a slim margin for error. We’ve got to do everything well. We can’t turn the ball over. We’ve got to reverse the ball; we didn’t reverse it. We’ve got to rebound it better than we did. We’ve got to defend better.”

“Maddyson looked at me; we had an out-of-bounds play that’s designed to get a three-point shot, and she yells, ‘Coach, run that play for me. I’m hot’,” said Broughton with a smile. “So, I say, ‘OK.’ When you’re point guard tells you to run this play, we’re going to do it.

“We’ve got a team that’s not about any individual,” he said. “They don’t care who scores. They don’t care who rebounds. They don’t even care if they’re playing or not. They want what’s best for the team, and that’s what’s going to make us successful.”

North Harrison’s shooting woes continued into the second half with the Lady Cats connecting on just five of 23 shots in the 16 minutes. Crawford County also put up 23 shots in the half but connected 10 times leading to the 72-43 win.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for Jamie, and I’ve got a lot of respect for their team,” Broughton said. “Charlestown is really good, and that was a tie game with a minute to go Saturday. North Harrison has got a good ball club, and they’ve got a bunch of tough, quick, little guards that really bothered us tonight. I’m glad for that because that’s what we need to work on. Their guards just really got after us.

“When we didn’t find them, Smith, for example, burned us. She’s going to make any open shot she gets when she can stop her feet and shoot it,” he said. “Luckily, we were able to speed them up enough tonight and not allow them to get a lot of good looks, clean looks. They were always in a little bit of a hurry, and it played to our advantage.”

“They played well,” Kolkmeier said of the Lady Pack. “They shot well. We didn’t rebound. We didn’t pass it very well. That kind of equals a bad result. They kicked our rears tonight.”

Sturgeon led the Lady Pack with 21 for the game, connecting on five from behind the arc. Riley House also put in five three-balls for 15 points, and freshman Emery Stroud finished with 11 points. Natalie Stroud added 10 for the Lady Pack, who put in 24 of 49 field goals (49%) and 12 of 20 free throws and committed 17 turnovers.

“Tonight the energy was just through the roof,” Sturgeon said. “Everybody was cheering for each other. Everybody was on their feet on the bench and on the floor. It didn’t matter who you were. You were all excited. It was so much fun.”

“I sure hoped she wouldn’t hit as many as she did,” Kolkmeier said of Sturgeon. “They stepped up and made every shot every time they were open. They made a lot of them. I don’t know what their percent was, but they shot it really well.”

“I think the kids understand that when one person’s got it going, it takes the pressure off of me and now I can play pressure free,” said Broughton. “Emi (Stroud) is a great example. Now that Natalie and Emily (Kerce) have stepped their games up, Emi can just go play and be wild and free on the floor. You can see she’s thriving on the floor. Everybody plays that way. When we all play well, we take the pressure off of our teammates and I think that’s what’s making us good too.”

Smith led the Lady Cats with 12 points for the game, and Meg Marinc finished with 9. The Lady Cats hit just 11 of 41 shots from the field (27%) and 16 of 22 from the charity stripe. North Harrison had 18 turnovers for the 32 minutes.

“We got out-hustled, outplayed, out-coached in about everything,” Kolkmeier said. “We’re not good enough to come down and shoot it in six seconds.”

“We took two good games on Saturday (at the Corydon tournament), and we carried it over into tonight,” Broughton said. “Now, we’ve got to carry it over to Friday. We’ve got to carry it over to next week. We’ve got to understand that we might have a bad game and we might get beat again. We might get beat again, but we’ve got a good basketball team and we’ve got to spend the next couple of weeks building up some confidence and get a little swagger about ourselves.”

North Harrison 9 16 8 10 – 43
Crawford County 23 18 14 17 – 72
North Harrison – Smith 12, Marinc 9, Goldman 7, Wilkins 7, Case 4, Shewmaker 3, Cox 1.
Crawford County – Sturgeon 21, House 15, E. Stroud 11, N. Stroud 10, Kerce 8, Ash 7.
3-point goals – North Harrison 5 (Smith 2, Marinc 1, Shewmaker 1, Wilkins 1); Crawford County 11 (House 5, Sturgeon 5, Kerce 1).