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Kee 3 at 0.2 beats Cougars, 63-61

February 27, 2008
When Paoli senior Donnie Kee hit a three-pointer with 0.2 seconds to go to beat host North Harrison, 63-61, last Tuesday night, he started blowing kisses to the sky as his teammates picked him up off the gym floor. He had good reason. The day before he had watched his mother buried following a sudden and unexpected medical emergency.

North Harrison's Joe Bolin (33) adds a steal to his stat column when he knocks the ball away from Paoli's Logan Laswell in the first half of the Rams' 63-61 win. (Photos by Wade Bell)
"It was just meant to be," said a North Harrison parent who had learned of the situation.

North Harrison coach Chris Martin said his team was down after the loss, but that wasn't such a bad thing.

"I saw a lot of dejected faces and I said, 'Guys, that's not all bad because early in the year some of you didn't really care if we won or loss. Tonight, you showed that you care,' " Martin said. "They were sitting in there with their heads down and were not a happy group tonight."

The Cougars, however, first had to do a little work to get themselves in a position where they could battle with the Class 2A No. 14 Rams. After North Harrison grabbed an early 6-5 lead, the Rams made a 10-2 run for an 18-8 advantage.

Will Jones got a single for the Cougars, but the Rams countered as Logan Laswell got two inside and Kee buried his first three of the game for a 23-9 lead. North Harrison's David Geswein got two of those back, but the Rams still had a 23-13 advantage.

The Cougars came back fighting in the second quarter. Joe Bolin got two free throws in the first minute, but a Kee three-ball countered that. Chad Eveslage got two free throws and then teammate Jim Bob Schuler turned into a man on a mission, scoring North Harrison's next nine points to pull the Cougars within two, 26-24.

Paoli's Joe Goodman and North Harrison's Lincoln Jones traded points in the remaining minutes of the half, with Paoli's lead still at just two, 28-26, at halftime.

"Our goal tonight was what we've done all year," Martin said. "No matter who we've played, we've just got to get better every time we come on the floor and give an effort and give ourselves a chance. We don't do a whole lot special. We don't try to come up with any trickery. We just try to play hard and do our things we need to be successful. That's what we tried to do against Paoli."

North Harrison's Cody Johnson doesn't quite get this pass to work as planned as it is knocked away by Paoli's Logan Laswell.
Mike Harkness scored the first three of the third quarter, putting the Rams back up by five. Johnson answered with a Cougar three, but the Rams then pushed their advantage back to six, 37-31, following a 6-2 burst.

Jordan Byrne buried a three to start a 10-3 North Harrison run, and the Cougars went back in front, 41-40, with 1:35 to go in the period.

Paoli got the next four points to go back in front by three, but Bolin scored inside with just 0.4 seconds showing on the clock, to pull the Cougars within one with eight minutes to go.

Johnson buried a three at the beginning of the fourth quarter to put the Cougars in front again, but Harkness answered inside. Bolin swished a jumper, but Laswell buried a three, putting Paoli back in front. Schuler and Byrne put up four straight points, North Harrison's lead going to three. Drew White responded with a three and Kee added a deuce, the Rams again going back in front, 54-52.

The two teams played to a 57-all tie, then Schuler ripped a three-ball for a 60-57 North Harrison advantage with 2:10 to go. Paoli called timeout, then misfired behind the arc. Harkness fouled out at 1:25, taking away some Paoli size. Matt Warner was called for his second with 54.1 seconds left, but Johnson missed the front end of the bonus.

With 44.3 seconds to go, Kee swished his fourth three of the game to tie the game at 60. Bolin got one of two free throws to put North Harrison back in front with 7.1 seconds to go.

Paoli moved the ball to midcourt and called timeout with 4.1 seconds left. North Harrison also took time to strategize.

When the ball came in, the Rams started to go inside, then kicked the ball out to Kee on the left wing. With 0.2 seconds showing on the clock, the ball left the senior's hands and saw nothing but net for the 63-61 Paoli win.

"We were trying to defend their three guys, and when they were able to get ball penetration, we had to step up and help," Martin said. "They were able to find the shooter. The guy who was on (Kee) stepped in to help out on the dribble drive penetration, and it was one of those where it was good as soon as it left his hand. We've hit several of those this year where you go, 'Golly, how did you hit that?' You just knew they were going to make one. He's a good shooter."

"It hurts from the standpoint that you get beat on a last-second shot, but on the other standpoint, how many times have we beaten somebody here this year that we've stole one from somebody else?" Martin said. "They came in tonight and hit a big shot and got a win, and you have to give them credit for that shot."

Schuler led the Cougars (5-16) with 21 points, and Bolin and Cody Johnson added 12 points each. North Harrison connected on 19 of 43 field goals (44 percent) and 15 of 20 free throws. North Harrison got 21 points off the bench and had only nine turnovers.

"We don't have a superstar. We don't have one or two guys that stand out and make every shot," Martin said. "We have to try to find combinations every night. The guys that come off the bench might not play as many minutes as the guys in the starting lineup. That's one of the things we talk about — just because you're not in the starting lineup when the game starts, you still have to be a contributor — and those guys come in and do that."

Kee led the Rams (15-4) with 19 points, including five threes, and White followed with 16. Laswell added 15 points for the Rams, who hit 23 of 50 shots (46 percent) and 6 of 12 free throws. The Rams had 13 turnovers.

"That's a problem when you have three shooters," Martin said. "You can usually defend one and sometimes you can defend two, but if they're able to penetrate and draw and kick, it's awfully hard to find that third shooter."

The Cougars face county and conference rival Corydon Central tonight (Wednesday) in the first round of the North Harrison Sectional. Martin said he knows how he wants his team to start the game.

"I want our kids thinking," he said. "Tonight, they saw what happened when we didn't get off to a good start. They saw what happens when you don't concentrate late at times. Even though you don't say it's good for you, hopefully, this gets them juiced up. We're 0-0 now. Everybody starts 0-0 sectional week, and we have to prepare for the next game and we have to be ready.

"We'll talk about county rival, conference rival, a team that we've lost to twice this season," he said. "We're not going to get overly psyched, because if we're fortunate to beat Corydon, that doesn't make you sectional champ. We'll prepare as if we're playing three games, and we'll play three if at all possible. This is just the first hurdle."

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