Lady Panthers shred NH, win MSC
By Wade Bell, Sports Writer
The Corydon Central girls’ basketball team finished out its Mid-Southern Conference schedule last Tuesday night against county rival North Harrison and turned it into a 70-33 massacre of the Lady Cats. The win gave the Lady Panthers their first MSC championship since 2006, finishing with a 7-1 record in the league, their only loss coming to Scottsburg.
“You’ve got to be pretty happy with the way they play both ends as a coach because they’re fun to watch and that’s what a lot of people tell you,” said Corydon Central coach Josh Conrad. “They’re an easy group to coach.”
“We had to play really great,” said North Harrison coach Jamie Kolkmeier. “We couldn’t turn it over, and we had to protect the paint and we had to rebound. In the first half when you get 15 shots off and you turn it over 18 times, that doesn’t leave you with too many chances. Some of those turnovers resulted in some easy scores for them.”
For about three minutes, the Lady Cats kept the game close, down five early in the first quarter. Ava Weber then broke loose for six quick points as the Corydon Central defense began to shred the Lady Cats. Josie Vaughn and Alyssa Groover scored in the paint for a 19-4 lead. Lydia Wilkins finally broke the run with a deuce-and-one, but Bre Edwards drilled a three in response, Corydon leading 22-7 after one quarter.
Reese Withers and Vaughn drilled a pair of Lady Panthers threes to start the second quarter. Wilkins got a single, but Vaughn countered with her third three of the game. Corydon Central continued to swarm over the Lady Cats like angry hornets for a 41-15 lead. Meg Marinc scored in the last few seconds, and North Harrison took a 24-point deficit to the locker room at halftime.
“We talked about not turning it over very much, and we turned it over too many times,” Kolkmeier said. “We turned it over early and didn’t rebound like we needed to. They stuck open shots and got several open shots. They’ve got a good group.”
The pace of the game slowed down in the third quarter. North Harrison had its biggest run of the game when Chloe Shewmaker scored inside and Sydney Smith drilled a three. Weber scored in response, but Kyra Case put in a deuce to cancel. Corydon Central then went on another rage in the fourth, outscoring the Lady Cats 20-7 for the 70-33 final.
“Sometimes we like playing defense,” Conrad said. “When mistakes are pointed out, sometimes they get discouraged but, as I told the radio beforehand, we have a group of girls who like to go compete and like to play fast. They don’t like to sit back and watch. I think defensively they’re getting better and better, and I think that’s the time when you want to get better defensively.”
“We got a lesson tonight,” said Kolkmeier. “They play really hard, and we don’t always play as hard as we need to play. We got physically overwhelmed too. It was a bad combination.”
Vaughn led the Lady Panthers with 23 points, putting down four shots from downtown, and Weber was right behind with 22. Groover added 10 for Corydon Central, which dumped in 28 of 53 field goals (53%) and 9 of 12 free throws. The Lady Panthers had 11 turnovers for the game.
“They’re a very unselfish team,” said Conrad. “They like to make that extra pass and get players the open shot.”
“It didn’t matter if we were in man or zone,” Kolkmeier said. “We really had no answer for Ava. Physically, she just dominated us. Groover kind of dominated us inside a little bit even without scoring points. Josie’s really good. She changes speed, and she knocks down open shots. She’s just a tough little player. They pass it well.”
Wilkins led North Harrison with 10 points for the game, and Smith followed p with 8. The Lady Cats connected on 14 of 36 from the field (39%), 3 of 9 free throws and had a total 26 turnovers.
“We’ve just got to be tougher,” Kolkmeier said. “When things start to go bad, you’ve got to fight that moment. I was just talking with Meg Marinc and she feels real bad. She played a ton of time and works so hard. I wish everybody had the level of dedication she has.”
“I always tell people that whenever you can look back and you can pull out 15 to 20 minutes for a season,” said Conrad, “and right now you’re 65 practices in, and say, ‘Hey, we didn’t work hard for those 10 to 15 minutes.’ it’s a heck of a season so far and we hope it continues.”
Kolkmeier said with two weeks left before the sectional, his team just has to continue to improve fundamentally.
“We just constantly look at things you have to do better, how we pivot and how we pass, just recognizing change in defenses where we kind of slow, when they went from half-court trap to man,” he said. “We got stuck and didn’t change. We’re just not processing it the way we should at times, the way you hope and the way you want to. You take a few things and try to get better every time, and that’s all you can do.”