November 27, 2013The North Harrison Lady Cats had two big runs in the first and third quarters to overpower visiting Crawford County, 70-37, last Tuesday night. It was also a big night for Lady Cat senior Kendra Lambert, who set a milestone with her 1,000th career point.
"At this point, I think we've got two kids — Carlie (Burson) coming back makes three — basically two kids that have played a lot of varsity basketball and a lot of kids who are scoring their first varsity baskets ever at the beginning of the season," North Harrison coach Missy Voyles said. "So, we're still trying to figure out what we're doing. Our concern is more about what we want to work on more than what everybody else is doing against what we do."
"We had a lot of unforced turnovers," Crawford County coach Chris Broughton said. "We prepared all week and the kids did a great job of executing the game plan. That's got to be on me, though, to get kids in the right spot early in the game where they can be successful. I'm still battling with that and I'll get better as a coach. But for the way we played early in the game, I can take responsibility. Maybe we were a little over-hyped, a little bit."
North Harrison senior Rachel Comer, left, cools off teammate Kendra Lambert after Lambert scored her 1,000th point in the first quarter against visiting Crawford County last Tuesday night. Photos by Wade Bell
Both teams played close in the early minutes of the game. Lambert got her first shot to go down, a long deuce, but misfired on her next two, and Voyles knew she had to calm her senior down.
"Her first couple of shots I was like, 'Would you calm down?' She knew. She knew she was seven points away (from 1,000)," Voyles said. "I don't think she thought I knew because I hadn't said anything about it, because I wasn't sure she knew and I didn't want her thinking about it."
With North Harrison using a pressure defense, the Lady Pack turned the ball over three times. Lambert converted on a three then seconds later canned two free throws to go over 1,000 points and take a 14-7 lead. The 14-0 run continued till North Harrison had a 20-9 lead after the first period.
"Her first couple of shots were, like, tight," Voyles said of Lambert. "I thought, 'Oh my gosh! Chill out. Shoot the ball.' Once she got over that mark, I think she relaxed and played a lot better."
Crawford County gained a little bit of that ground back in the second period. The Lady Cats had a run of four straight missed shots, but Crawford County failed to convert because of turnovers. Carly Allen and Tylynn Allen finally connected for the Lady Pack, and Crawford County's deficit was back to 10, 31-21, at halftime.
"I think you give Crawford a lot of credit for the beginning of the game," Voyles said. "I thought they came out aggressively. I thought they were doing some really good things. They were obviously prepared for our match-up, and they did some good things in the half-court set. They were out-rebounding us. I think Chris is doing a good job with them, and I think that shows."
"We knew they were going to press on made baskets and fall back into 1-3-1," Broughton said. "We worked on our 2-1-2 offense all week, and when we did execute, we got shots that we wanted. I thought we hurt them a few times by getting the ball low and getting it inside. Those are signs to me of improvement. There's a lot of things we didn't do last Tuesday at Salem that we did better at tonight."
Crawford County got the first two buckets of the second half from Katie Tincher and Brooke Sauer to close the gap to six, 31-25. The turning point came when Lambert found a back door two times in a row and canned free throws for six straight points, extending the Lady Cat lead back to 12, 37-25.
"There were, like, three possessions in a row and two of them was for and-one, where she got fouled and scored," Broughton said. "Those are things we will improve upon."
Crawford County's Makayla Bowman gets a hand on this layup by North Harrison's Megan Smith in the second quarter but was called for a foul on the play.
Stevi Burns followed Lambert's six with a three-ball to push the lead to 40-25. That carried over through the remainder of the game, as the Lady Cats dominated.
"Basically, at this point, we're worried about ourgame more than what everybody else is doing," Voyles said. "We did scout them. We went up and watched them play Salem, and we knew who was going to be shooting. You kind of prepare for their post players and what they do. We knew they were going to rebound hard against us, so we were a little prepared for what they were doing. So, we tried to keep the ball out of the post as much as possible in the high post."
"They prepared very well all week," Broughton said of his players. "We had a good game plan. I've just got to do a better job of getting them into spots where they can be successful. … They improved upon what they did at Salem. North Harrison is a very good basketball team. We knew we were going to have to play well, and we couldn't make unforced turnovers. We wanted to hang with them."
North Harrison's Lambert led all scorers with 21 points, and Burson finished with 11 in her first game since getting a concussion during volleyball season. The Lady Cats were 20 of 41 from the field (49 percent) and 24 of 37 from the charity stripe. North Harrison had 24 turnovers.
"Jill (Book) had five assists, and that's great," Voyles said. "Cammie (Jones) had three and Kendra had three, so we're trying to get people to look to do more for their teammates. Typically, your best players from middle school are your scorers and they all have to play together. Somebody has to learn to be that passer and make their teammates better. I think they did a better job of that tonight than they have in the first two games."
Sauer led Crawford County with 10 points. The Lady Pack connected on 16 of 45 field-goal attempts (36 percent) and just seven of 17 free throws. Crawford County had 34 turnovers,
"I think Sauer is an outstanding athlete," Voyles said. "I thought she looked really good. They did a lot with her."
"We really battled," Broughton said. "It was a ball game for two and a half quarters. We were right there in the game. Just a few things didn't go our way. The ball bounces here or there and we stay in the game even longer. It was big for us not to get our head down. We were going to battle all the way to the end, because I want other teams to know when they see Crawford County they're going to get battled."
North Harrison's first two wins have been by more than 30 points, but Voyles said her team has to get more consistent.
"We do a lot of things well, but we don't do things well consistently right now," she said. "I am pleased with our young kids. We're playing five sophomores … and a freshman. … Everybody's playing JV and everybody's playing varsity. I've joked that people could come and scout the six o'clock game if they wanted. It's the same kids. We've got 16 kids playing right now, and I am happy with all 16 of them."
Despite having seen the first two games go into the lost column, Broughton said his team is in good shape mentally and ready to get back to winning.
"They've been upset both times in the locker room," Broughton said. "To me, that shows that they want to be winners. The first step you've got to take is you have to want to win before you can win. So, mentally we're in great shape. We feel like we've got a stretch of games coming up here where we're going to be in every one of them, and we're going to get some wins."