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North boys sting Bluejackets


January 06, 2010
North Harrison saw a nine-point lead disintegrate in the final minutes at Mitchell last Tuesday night, but some last-minute heroics pushed the Cougars to a 46-42 win before heading into a four-game homestand.

North Harrison vs. Mitchell
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"It was a good experience for the kids to play in a close game and come out victorious," coach Greg Walters said. "We had some shots that we got good looks. We had some layins that we just didn't get to finish tonight. I was proud of the kids. They even came back when we lost the lead there for a second. We stayed calm and poised and made the right reads. We were able to play big."

The game was nip and tuck through the first eight minutes, but six early points from Lincoln Jones allowed North Harrison to hold a 12-10 edge after one quarter.

SOUTHARD
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North Harrison’s Devin Southard, right, takes flight in the second half against Mitchell’s Adam Ziebell as he goes in for two of his 23 points. The Cougars won the game, 46-42. Photo by Wade Bell
The Cougars hit a wall in the second period, however, as they connected on just three of their 16 field-goal attempts. Mitchell wasn't much better, making just three of its nine attempts.

After the Bluejackets tied the game at 12, North Harrison's Devin Southard lit up, first connecting on a four-point play then swishing a 14-footer minutes later. Joe Bolin added a deuce for a 20-14 Cougar lead, but Mitchell fired back with a 6-0 burst that was capped by a Taylor Phillips' three-ball with 15 seconds left that sent the teams to the locker room tied at 20.

"(Jones) came out extremely aggressive offensively and defensively," Walters said. "I think that's what caused a little bit of the problem. He got a couple of quick fouls, and we put him on the bench there in the second quarter. They kind of made a run on us. Then, obviously, Devin stepped up and was huge for us from there on."

North Harrison began the second half with a 7-0 run to take a 27-20 lead. Southard later pushed the advantage to nine on a pair of breaks, and the Cougars held a 33-24 edge after three quarters.

Mitchell, however, quickly launched a counterattack in the fourth period, opening with a 9-0 burst to tie the game at 33.

Southard scored again for North Harrison, but David Wintczak sank a pair of freebies and Phillips drilled a three-ball to push Mitchell in front, 38-35, for the first time.

Bolin and Southard pushed North Harrison back in front, as the pair hit from the perimeter, but Brandon Owens answered for Mitchell for a 42-41 Bluejacket edge.

"I thought about (calling a timeout)," Walters said. "We were identical a lot in some terms, and I felt like we needed to save those timeouts till the end of the game. We haven't put up a whole lot of points. Fifty is our most. We're not putting up enough to cause a big stretch in point totals. You're going to have runs one way or the other. I was proud of the guys that they were able to refocus and fight through that run."

After Bolin scored inside for the Cougars, Mitchell called a timeout. North Harrison's Alex Edwards then was called for his fourth foul, but Wintczak missed both freebies.

Following two North Harrison timeouts, it was Wintczak's turn to be called for a foul, his third. Dylan Janes sank one of two free throws for a 44-42 North Harrison edge.

The Bluejackets called timeout with 19.7 seconds left, but turned over the ball when play resumed. Mitchell's Darron Tanksley was called for his fourth foul, and Janes connected on both attempts this time to put the game out of reach as North Harrison got the 46-42 win.

"Those were big shots, and I'm really proud of him," Walters said. "We talked about being poised. With the kids, you can't expect to catch a break. You have to make your own breaks. When you're on the road five of your first six, you just have to learn to fight through it. The call might not go your way; a possession might not go your way. You just have to continue to work hard and fight through it and focus. We did a better job of that tonight."

Southard had a career night for the winners, scoring 23 points, and Jones finished with 11. North Harrison was 16 of 50 (32 percent) from the field and 8 of 12 from the charity stripe. The Cougars coughed up the ball 13 times.

"We haven't scored a lot this season, so, when anybody scores them, I kind of notice," Walters said. "We were real excited, and, hopefully, we can carry that over. It seems like we get one guy going one game and it trickles down. Hopefully, we'll be able to get everybody on all cylinders."

Wintczak led Mitchell with 21 points, and Phillips added 13. Mitchell was 12 of 38 (31 percent) from the field and 13 of 22 from the free-throw line. The Bluejackets finished with 15 turnovers.

The Cougars (3-3, 0-3) now return to friendly territory, with their next set of games coming at home.

"We go home for four games," Walters said. "Our first six games, we played five of them on the road, and we were able to come out at .500. We're kind of gelling as a team, and, hopefully, we can come out and be competitive against a couple of conference opponents."

"We start off with Austin (Friday night)," he said. "They're a good team. They've got five guys that can all shoot. They can all play on the perimeter. They can all post you up. They can get to the basket. They get out and push the ball, so it will be a real test for us."

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