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Salem ends Cougars' season

Crawford County Sectional First Round

March 11, 2009
The North Harrison boys' basketball team saw its season end in the opening game of the Crawford County Sectional last Tuesday night at the hands of the Salem Lions, 75-55.

North Harrison's Devin Southard forces Salem's Robert Baker to turn over the ball in the second half. (Photo by Wade Bell)
"We've got a lot of kids who enjoy playing the game, who play hard," Cougar coach Chris Martin said. "We were just a half step slow a couple of times.

"We've run into several (teams) this year that have three or four guys who can stand on the perimeter. You try to take away one, and they had three or four guys who stepped up late in the ball game and hit threes against us. You wind up chasing too much, and that's what gets you stretched out."

Salem grabbed an early 15-8 lead, then the Cougars watched their deficit balloon to 22-8 following a three by Kendall Martin.

T.J. Sanders later got hot for the Cougars, knocking down back-to-back threes, to pull North Harrison within six, 24-18. At that point, however, Salem responded with a 9-3 burst triggered by a Robert Baker three-ball. The run sent the Lions to the locker room with a 33-21 advantage.

"We cut it to 24-18 with two threes in a row," Martin said. "We gave up a three and a two, and it went right back to 11. One of the shots, the kid catches on the wing and we relaxed for a third of a second and Baker was standing out there with nothing else to do with it so he shot it. We just didn't get to the shooter."

Sanders buried another three at the start of the second half to pull the Cougars within nine. After a long dry spell by both teams, Salem got a 7-2 burst, as Michael Baird hit pay dirt on a three-ball for a 40-26 Lion lead. Salem gained momentum and led 58-34 at the end of the third.

North Harrison won the last quarter, but it wasn't near enough as Salem cruised to the 20-point win.

"The start of the second half, we score the first bucket, a three, to cut it down to nine," Martin said. "We held for three possessions and had a couple of bad turnovers or a bad shot here and there and just couldn't convert."

Sanders led the Cougars with 16 points. North Harrison (3-19) was 21 of 44 (47 percent) from the field and 8 of 12 from the charity stripe, while coughing up the ball 18 times.

"T.J. is a good spot shooter," Martin said. "We worked with him all week on getting to a spot instead of trying to be too aggressive off the dribble. When he gets set and we kick the ball inside and it comes back out to him, he's a pretty good shooter. The last six or eight games we've done a better job of getting it inside to guys so that it can be kicked out to shooters on the perimeter."

Gunner Erwin led Salem with 20 points. Collin Hayes finished with 11 points, and Robert Baker and Baird had 10 points each. The Lions were 27 of 52 (51 percent) from the field and 12 of 19 at the line. Salem had 15 turnovers.

"We've got four seniors that are good leaders who've come to practice every day, and the thing about all four of them is, T.J. is a football player; Maverick (Becht) is a rodeo rider; Will (Jones) is just a decent athlete who works his tail off at everything he does, whether it be school work or playing tennis, or playing baseball, he's just a great kid; Zach (Anderson) has gone through two knee injuries.

"When you look at these guys, that's all they know," Martin said. "They do everything that they can every day to get a little better, and that's what you need as far as leadership in your program."

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