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All eyes are on the ball after Vincennes Lincoln's Kenzie Held puts up the game-winning shot with four seconds left in North Harrison's 53-51 loss in the Jasper Regional. (Photos by Wade Bell)

Alices oust Lady Cats from Wonderland

Jasper Regional

February 25, 2009
The North Harrison Lady Cats were hoping to step through the looking glass into Wonderland Saturday afternoon at the Jasper girls' basketball regional. Instead, the Lady Alices of Vincennes Lincoln kicked North Harrison out of the post-season party with four seconds remaining.

"It's a tough loss," said North Harrison coach Hal Pearson, whose team suffered a 53-51 heartbreaker. "There's not a single thing to be ashamed about. They've accomplished a lot, Mid-Southern Conference and sectional (champs). I told them to hold their heads high and walk out like winners."

The first half saw eight lead changes in the 16 minutes. Both teams held a four-point lead at one point in the half but no more.

North Harrison's Kayla Lambert, right, picks the pocket of Vincennes Lincoln's Madison Cardinal in the first half of the opener of the Jasper Regional.
Kacey Cox gave the Lady Cats a 17-13 lead three minutes into the second period, but Vincennes bounced back with a 5-0 burst to go up by one. Deidre Book hit a short jumper to give North Harrison an edge, but Brooke Owens scored inside for a Vincennes lead.

North Harrison called timeout with 27.6 seconds to go in the half, and when play resumed, the Lady Cats worked the ball across the perimeter until Sasha Grangier found an opening to score with five seconds left and give her team a 21-20 halftime lead.

"We got hurt on the boards," Pearson said. "We went small for a while on the press, and even before that, we didn't do a real great job on the boards. We got beat on the offensive boards most of the night. … Defensively, we got burnt a little bit trying to keep it out of (Owens') hands. It got in her hands a little too much."

The teams traded baskets most of the third period, but Stephanie Jefferson finally gave the Lady Alices a big boost as she drilled a pair of threes and a deuce-and-one for a 39-31 Lincoln lead. Madison Cardinal followed that with a deuce to expand the lead to 10.

Book got two of those back for the Lady Cats at the end of the period, but North Harrison still trailed by eight.

"We lost Jefferson," Pearson said. "She started early in the year, and she got hurt around Christmas. We have her down that she can shoot. We had talked about that beforehand."

Having a large group of well-experienced players on the floor, the Lady Cats kept their composure and worked themselves back in the game.

Wynn Shroyer hit a jumper for North Harrison, but Tara Nidey answered with a three-ball. Kayla Lambert countered that three with her own, and Cox continued the run with a deuce-and-one to cut the deficit to one. Shroyer and Madison Snodgrass added to the run for a 47-44 lead, but Lincoln countered to lead by three.

Shroyer sank a deuce, but Owens followed with a freebie to give Vincennes a two-point lead. Cox, however, tied the game at 51 with 49 seconds left.

Lincoln worked the ball until the final seconds, when Kenzie Held drove to the middle, where she was surrounded by Lady Cats, and fired a shot. The ball bounced once on the rim and fell through the net.

North Harrison got a final chance following a timeout, but Cox's 35-footer went right and North Harrison's season ended.

"We missed four free throws there in a row late that could have helped us seal the game," Pearson said. "They hit free throws. Teams that hit free throws win in the end, and that's what happened. It would have been a different story if we had been up a couple of points."

Cox led North Harrison with 18 points, and Shroyer followed with 11. The Lady Cats shot just 18 of 49 (36 percent) from the field and 10 of 18 from the stripe. They committed 16 turnovers.

"This is a great group of kids," Pearson said. "They've helped change North Harrison basketball back to where it should be; 21-4 is a great record. They've helped the program get back on the right track."

Nidey led Vincennes Lincoln with 13 points, and Owens finished with 11. Jefferson came off the bench to add 10 points for the Lady Alices, who hit 16 of 48 (33 percent) field goals and 12 of 17 free throws. Vincennes Lincoln turned over the ball 17 times.

"We tried to pick it up at halftime with a 2-2-1 press," Pearson said. "They were able to just stand and look at us. Then, we had to go at it a little bit harder. Really, what hurt us is when we lost Jefferson."

Pearson said he is losing eight seniors, but doesn't believe there will be much of a rebuilding effort as one might think.

"These seniors have done a great job, not only on the floor, but in practice every day," he said. "They've showed great leadership to the other kids, what it's like to play as a team, how to work as a team on the floor together. That's going to transfer over to the younger kids in our program."

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