Cougars thump Lanesville
By Wade Bell, Sports Writer
The Lanesville Eagles came into the North Harrison gymnasium Friday night with a plan of slowing down the game and keeping the Cougars from racing up and down the floor on scoring drives. For the first 16 minutes, it worked, keeping Lanesville in the position to maybe pull a major win for their team.
The second half, however, the Cougars found a way to thwart that strategy and eventually ran away for a 25-point win.
“Too many breakdowns, offensively in the second half, easy baskets, too many fouls,” said Lanesville coach Mikel Miller. “We offensively became way too stagnant. There was not a lot of movement. It seemed like we were tired but shouldn’t have been tired.”
“The goal, for us, was to not let them just pass and pass and pass and cut and pass until they find the right person in the right spot to score,” said North Harrison coach Lou Lefevre. “We wanted to make them have to do something. We wanted to make them have to put the ball on the floor, and we wanted to bother them a little so they couldn’t run their offense effectively. In the first half, they were running their offense as long as they wanted to until they got the chance they wanted.”
Most of the first half was comprised of Lanesville moving the ball back and forth around the perimeter, but the two teams were getting a few shots off but not hitting many. The Eagles fired up the ball eight times with three of those going down for baskets. North Harrison, meanwhile, put in four of its 10 shots. The Cougars, however, were getting chances at the charity stripe and had a 14-10 after one quarter.
Baskets came few and farther between in the second quarter as Lanesville slowed down the game even more. The Cougars sank just two of their eight attempts, while the Eagles put the ball up six times, only to find the bottom of the basket once, North Harrison holding on to a 19-14 lead at the break.
“When the game is slow and you’re not ahead or it’s a close game and in long possessions, it’s almost like you get nervous,” Lefevre said. “We missed wide-open shots; we missed layups. It was so nervous, ‘Oh no, what’s going on? We’re not winning.’ Then, the players miss shots they normally make. The second half, once the defense got better, the offense got easier.”
“We just needed to be more patient,” Miller said. “That’s something we had talked about all week, just trying to be more patient offensively. I thought the first half, for the most part, we did that.”
The Cougars worked to force a quicker pace in the second half. Turnovers began to become a nuisance for the Eagles and North Harrison was collecting with a 13-2 run to go up 32-16. Maddex Miller finally got a three to go down for the Eagles, leaving Lanesville with a 13-point deficit with one quarter to go.
The deficit, however, would not be made up. Bryce Fessel drilled two shots from downtown for the Cougars, who made a 9-2 run for a 41-21 advantage. Despite gaining some ground in the remaining minutes, the hole was too deep to escape from and the Cougars finished with a 51-26 win.
“Right there at halftime you’re in a four- or five-point game,” Miller said. “You’re kind of where you want to be there and just get a couple of stops and a couple of baskets coming out of the second half. We just didn’t do that.”
“We bothered them enough so they weren’t comfortable,” Lefevre said. “We played the cuts a lot better so that people weren’t cutting across wide open and, when they looked for them, we knocked the ball away or they didn’t have that and didn’t know what to do and made some mistakes. We just disrupted their offense in the second half. That was the goal from the start.”
Kaleb Kellems led the Cougars with 14 points, hitting 8 of 9 free throws, and Bryce Fessel followed with 11 for the night. North Harrison connected on 19 of 39 field goals (49%) and 13 of 19 free throws. The Cougars had five turnovers for the night.
“Bryce Fessel was terrific,” Lefevre said. “Bryce Fessel was all over the court, had big offensive rebounds, made baskets and helped put the game away in the second half. He’s just a fantastic kid to have on the team.”
“David Langdon did a great job coming in and giving us a little offense and being solid on defense and grabbing a few boards,” he said. “Sawyer (Wetzel) had a poor shooting game but got great chances to score. He wasn’t forcing it or anything; he just missed. That’s the way it goes.”
Miller led Lanesville with nine points. The Eagles put up 27 field goals and found the bottom of the net nine times (33%). Lanesville hit 3 of their 4 free-throw attempts and had 12 turnovers for the game.
“We told them in one of the timeouts we looked like we were running in mud,” Miller said. “We didn’t move real well. The ball itself didn’t move. It kind of got stuck again. In practice we showed better at that than we did tonight.”
“You have to give them credit,” he said.” Defensively, they had a lot ot do with some of the things we struggled with tonight but there were things we struggled with tonight that were our own doing.”
“We’re so inconsistent,” said the North Harrison coach. “If you watch us in the first half, we just didn’t look like a consistent, experienced team that goes all out, firing on all cylinders. We’re just very inconsistent, and we’re not always going to find the way that we need to play. From a coaching standpoint, I don’t really know what a coach can do. It’s a player-controlled issue.”