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Lady Cats rally to oust Mitchell

Corydon Sectional First Round

February 18, 2009
After a horrendous first half of shooting, the North Harrison Lady Cats regrouped to rally from a double-digit deficit to squeak out a 59-54 first-round sectional win over the Mitchell Lady Bluejackets last Tuesday at Corydon.

Most of the talk around the Corydon Central gymnasium, however, dealt with the absence of North Harrison coach Hal Pearson, who was serving a one-game suspension after an ejection at Brownstown Central the previous Saturday, which put assistant coach Alan Reed at the helm with the help of assistants Danny Schmidt and Laura Shireman.

North Harrison's Kayla Lambert tries to get a shot off against Mitchell's Brianne Fults in a first-round game. Lambert broke the 1,000-point barrier in their sectional opener. (Photo by Wade Bell)
"The most nerve-wracking thing for me was when we didn't shoot the ball well early," Reed, who stayed calm all night, said. "I was a little worried about that."

Barns across the area could feel relatively safe as North Harrison had all kinds of problems finding the basket in the first half. The Lady Cats hit just 2 of 17 attempts in the first period and only 3 of 12 in the second quarter. That enabled Mitchell to jump to a 22-12 lead in the second quarter.

North Harrison did find some freebies, however, when Wynn Shroyer and Kacey Cox sank four straight free throws. Sasha Grangier later got two in the paint, and the North Harrison deficit shrunk to four, 22-18, at halftime.

"The kids didn't show any nerves," Reed said. "The first game of the sectional, actually, I thought the ball might be a little bouncy. It seemed like it was coming off awful hard. We juggled it a couple of times off the dribble, but everybody else had to play with that ball."

"There were some jitters, and things weren't just falling for us," North Harrison senior Kayla Lambert said. "It worked out the second half, and we played a lot better."

A different Lady Cat team came out of the locker room for the third period as North Harrison scored the first 10 points for a 29-22 lead. Lambert later reached a milestone, when she hit two free throws for her 1,000th career point and a 37-27 lead. She said she knew how close she was, but said the game came first.

"I had been told," Lambert said. "Coach Pearson and my parents told me. It doesn't cross my mind much. I just really want this sectional most of all."

Mitchell still had one more run, however, when Ariel Cockerham and Brianne Fults fired in three-balls to pull the Lady Bluejackets within three, 44-41. Cox got a free throw, but Natalie Morse drilled a three for a one-point game, 45-44.

Shroyer, however, connected on 5 of 6 in the final minute as the Lady Cats secured a semi-final spot in the tournament with a 59-54 win.

Lambert and Grangier led the winners with 17 points each. Shroyer followed with 13 for the Lady Cats, who finished 18 of 45 (40 percent) from the field. North Harrison sank 22 of 31 free throws and committed 19 turnovers.

"Sasha had a nice game," Reed said. "Offensively, that's probably the best game she's had all year."

He added, "Kayla Lambert is a shooter for us and, and I don't think she made a perimeter shot for us tonight. She missed her first three free throws and she finally got some layups for us. Kayla doesn't give up. She gives you her heart."

Amanda Trambaugh and Devin Hardman led Mitchell with 11 points each, and Natalie Morse finished with 10. Mitchell hit 20 of 55 (36 percent) field goals and 11 of 18 free throws. The Lady Bluejackets made 24 turnovers.

"Coach Shireman and coach Schmidt were a great help tonight," Reed said. "They were there in my ear all night long. … They did a great job of helping me. They knew what to do. They could see what was going on."

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