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The North Harrison girls' basketball program celebrates its first sectional championship since 2003 when it beat Crawford County in the final round at Corydon Saturday night. The Lady Cats advance to Saturday's Jasper Regional, where they will face Vincennes Lincoln. (Photos by Wade Bell)

Lady Cats win first title since 2003

NH defeats Crawford, 58-35, in championship

February 18, 2009
The North Harrison Lady Cats began their sectional run with a slim win over Mitchell without coach Hal Pearson, then blew out the Charlestown Lady Pirates in the semi-finals. Going into the final against rival Crawford County Saturday night at Corydon, Pearson wasn't going to let himself or his team think it was going to be easy.

"It's a sectional final where you pretty much throw everything out the window and go at it," the North Harrison coach said after Friday's win against Charlestown.

Crawford County's Kim Holzbog, left, and North Harrison's Wynn Shroyer fight over the ball in the first half of the Lady Cats' 58-35 win in the final round.
Pearson's players weren't feeling that comfortable either.

"Of course not, it's sectional time," senior Wynn Shroyer said. "If you lose, you're out, and every team doesn't want to lose. You know they're going to lay it out on the floor and give it their all. You just have to come ready to play. There's no point at all I was comfortable and confident."

In the end, however, the Lady Cats did prevail, earning their first sectional championship since 2003 with a 58-35 dominance of the Lady Pack.

"Give North Harrison the credit," Crawford coach Eric Toney said. "They did all the things that makes them a great team. They're not 21-3 for nothing. … They've got a good, solid eight people, and six of them are seniors who have played together for years. They did what they needed to do, and the better team won tonight. They deservingly won this sectional."

North Harrison ran out to an 11-2 lead in the first quarter. Crawford then began a 9-0 run that went into the second quarter, with Chelsea Benham scoring inside to cut the Lady Pack deficit to 14-12. They were the last points Crawford would get in the half, however, as North Harrison scored the last nine points of the period to take a 23-12 lead to the locker room at the break.

Crawford was already forced to think about fouls with leading scorers Benham and Chelsea Jellison both tagged with two.

"You almost have to substitute that early with people with two fouls," Toney said. "North Harrison, to their credit, turned up the heat when they saw those two out of the lineup. They were able to capitalize on some things."

Crawford pulled to within 11 in the fourth quarter after a Jellison three-ball, but North Harrison finished with a 16-4 run and cruised on to the 58-35 win.

"It was one of those where to hold somebody to 35 points is a pretty good game," Pearson said. "They made a run in a couple of stretches and got it to 10 or 11. We were able to answer pretty quickly and ran a couple of nice sets down there where it got close."

"The start of every game is so important and as important is the start of the third quarter," Toney said. "I think in both cases, we didn't come out flat. We came out and things didn't go our way."

Shroyer led the winners with 17 points, and Kayla Lambert followed with 15. The Lady Cats were 19 of 39 (48 percent) from the field and 17 of 28 from the free-throw line. North Harrison turned the ball over just 13 times.

"I think everyone on this team realized how much we wanted it," Shroyer said. "We've been waiting for it for four years, and it was an awful situation (that Pearson) wasn't able to coach us (against Mitchell because of a suspension for being ejected during the the Lady Cats' last regular season game), but we wanted it for him. We wanted to win that game no matter what it took. We were going to get it for Pearson. He deserves it as much as we do."

Sasha Grangier scored eight points but struggled after suffering through a stomach virus the previous 24 hours. It was a night she was not going to miss, however.

"I guess it was just sectional, and we've always wanted this since we've been in high school," she said. "This is what we've been working for, and now we're trying to work for regional. That's the only reason I played so hard since fifth grade."

Jellison led the Lady Pack (13-9) with 15 points, and Benham was held to nine points. Crawford was 14 of 36 (38 percent) from the field and 6 of 10 from the stripe. Turnovers were a problem, with Crawford committing 25.

"Chelsea Benham is a very sad young lady right now because her career is over, but what a career it has been," Toney said. "A thousand points, only the second (female) player in Crawford County history to accomplish that. I'm sure she'll be a four-year (Patoka Lake Athletic Conference) All-Conference player. She has a lot of accolades and accomplishments to look back on."

North Harrison (21-3) will meet Vincennes Lincoln in Saturday's regional at Jasper. Shroyer said the Lady Cats will be taking it head on together.

"This is the closest team I've ever been on," Shroyer said. "We all get along so well and all crack up. We have such a good time. It's a group of sisters/best friends. We're there for each other. If something is going wrong, we can talk to each other about it. Then, we can play this game.

"We've been together since third grade and adding Kacey Cox (who transferred to North Harrison this year), that's just a huge factor. We've played with her since third grade, too. … I don't what else you could ask for in a team."

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