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Cougars slip to Rebs in OT, 66-58

December 03, 2008
The North Harrison Cougars got their first test last Tuesday night in the season-opener against visiting South Central and forced the game into overtime before the Rebels finally pulled away for a 66-58 win. Travis Higdon was the big star for the Rebels, dumping in 31 points, swishing four three-pointers, as well as making all eight of his free-throw attempts in the final four minutes.

"We got the first layup opportunity of the overtime and didn't get it in, and that gave them the opportunity to get the lead, and that's where they took the game away from us," North Harrison coach Chris Martin said. "We work on those day after day after day. We're trying to convince them that going hard in practice and making those shots will make it easier to make (them) in the ball game."

North Harrison center Alex Edwards finds South Central guard Travis Higdon in his way as he goes to the basket early in the second half. Higdon was called for a foul on the play. (Photo by Wade Bell)
North Harrison led in the early going as Chad Eveslage swished a pair of freebies and Maverick Becht buried a three-ball for a 7-3 advantage. South Central answered with six straight points to briefly go out in front, but T.J. Sanders drilled a three late in the period, as the Cougars held a 10-9 edge after eight minutes.

Alex Edwards got a deuce-and-one to push North Harrison's lead back to four. That evaporated quickly as Higdon tied the game on a four-point play. Chip Hockenbury put the Rebels back in front, scoring inside. Higdon added to the run with six straight points to push the Rebels in front, 22-13. North Harrison finally broke the streak and had one of its own. scoring the final nine points of the half to tie the game at 22.

"We were up 7-3, and we don't like prosperity," Martin said. "We missed a couple of layups. We had a couple of quick travels that our feet shuffled on. They've got a couple of inside players, (Randall) Hertle and Hockenbury, that do a nice job, and we were watching them tonight. That opens up things for other people."

The two teams traded the lead four times in the third quarter, with Lincoln Jones giving the Cougars a lift late in the period to keep North Harrison within one. John Lopp swished a Rebel three, but Edwards hit a short jumper to shrink the South Central advantage to two at the end of the period.

The Rebels pushed their lead to six early in the fourth period, but North Harrison pushed back to within one after Eveslage scored inside. After Clinton Keys hit a free throw for a 44-42 Rebel lead, North Harrison's Joe Bolin scored inside with 1:22 to go in regulation.

Two more ties followed, with the final occurring when Edwards scored in the paint with 10 seconds to deadlock the game at 48 at the end of regulation.

North Harrison missed its first four field goals of the overtime as South Central ran off an 8-1 run, taking a 56-49 lead. Bolin scored again as North Harrison fought to get back in the game, but Higdon kept the Cougars at bay, hitting all eight of his free-throw attempts.

The Cougars got no closer than six, and eventually fell by eight.

Martin said his team tried to pressure the Rebels more in the second half, but South Central's ball handlers proved to be too much.

"We tried to apply the pressure because Hertle was out of the ball game, but their guards do a nice job of handling it," he said. "Keys and Higdon are fine ball handlers. You've got two senior point guards out there who handle the ball well, and that puts you in a position where if something breaks down, they can create something on their own."

Eveslage led the Cougars with 12 points, and Becht followed with 11. Jones came off the bench to add 10 points. The Cougars were 20 of 53 (37 percent) from the field and 11 of 20 from the stripe.

"We're still looking for a shooter," Martin said. "We took 22 threes tonight, and that's just too many. We're decent shooters, but we shoot the ball better off ball reversal and inside out."

Another thing Martin didn't like was his team's 18 turnovers.

"We just got in a hurry," he said. "Last year, that's one thing as the season went on we got better at. Our guys were reversing the ball and moving it instead of getting in that quick hurry. We'll get there."

Besides Higdon's 31 points, Hockenbury followed with 21. The Rebels were 20 of 39 (51 percent) from the field and connected on 21 of 27 in free throws. South Central finished with 19 turnovers.

"(Higdon) hit 31 tonight, and you concentrate so much on the inside people that the guards sneak through and get a bucket every once in a while," Martin said. "Before you know it, you look up and the kid's got 31 points. That was a great effort tonight."

Martin said his team must become more patient.

"Patience, and then after that we'll work on some patience," he stressed. "Just recognition of what we need to do every day to get better. What is a good shot and what's not a good shot."

North Harrison (0-1) will play at county rival Corydon Central Friday evening.

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