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Cougars hold off Scottsburg, 70-65


January 11, 2012
The North Harrison Cougars improved their record to 7-2 over the weekend with wins against Mid-Southern Conference opponents Austin and Scottsburg Friday and Saturday nights, respectively. The Cougars, however, had to fend off a late run to secure Saturday's 70-65 win over the Warriors.

"We've been at the bottom of our conference for a while," North Harrison coach Greg Walters said. "It's good to have a winning season here, so we're trying to break that culture and just work hard. We don't know what the future holds. We're just going to continue to work hard and compete with every team we meet."

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North Harrison junior Tyler Bement, center, had a career-high 23 points to lead the Cougars to a 70-65 win over visiting Scottsburg Saturday night. Photo by Wade Bell
It first looked like it was going to be a Warriors night as Scottsburg shot out to an 11-1 lead in the first period. The Warriors put away 8 of 11 field-goal attempts in the quarter while the Cougars were just 6 of 13 from the field. The Cougars finally grabbed a gear late in the period and led 21-18 after the first eight minutes.

"They changed their lineup up a little bit on us," Walters said. "They went small to match up with us. They've been playing some 2-2-1 back into a zone and pressing. We kind of figured that's what they were going to do. That was a good adjustment on their part."

Scottsburg went back out in front early in the second period and pushed its advantage to eight, 35-27, following a freebie by Cameron Collins. Tyler Bement then drilled a three-ball, starting a 9-2 North Harrison run to close the gap 37-36 at halftime.

Bement said he knew he had to step up his game because the Warriors were paying so much attention to teammate Cory Smith, who had scored 40 points the night before against Austin.

"I noticed that Collin (Book) and Cory were really not having their big night, and Cory couldn't really hit anything," Bement said. "Collin couldn't really do anything underneath, so I just figured I'd step up and play as hard as I could and take over a little bit."

"He's probably one of the leading scorers in the state," Walters said of Smith. "Coming into this game, he was averaging close to 27 a game. Coming off a 40-point night, in the newspapers where it said he scores 40 real big, we had a feeling they were going to key on him."

Book gave North Harrison a one-point edge with the first basket of the second half. Later in the third period, Book and Smith converted off Scottsburg turnovers for a 49-44 Cougars lead at the end of the quarter.

North Harrison pushed its lead to double digits, at 58-48, with Bement scoring six of nine Cougar points.

The Warriors still had one more run left in them, however. That came as the Cougars missed 5 of 6 free throws. Scottsburg took advantage of the situation, closing the gap to 64-61 following a deuce inside by Gabe Elam.

The Cougars, however, hit just enough free throws to stay in front and hold on for the 70-65 win.

"We missed foul shots," Walters said. "That's how they closed the gap. We got what we wanted off the bounce and got the foul called, then we step up and got one or none. That's how they got back in it. The guys had the confidence. They still wanted the ball, and they were going to knock them down. We knocked enough of them down to get the win."

Bement led the Cougars with a career-high 23 points. Smith finished with 19, and Book added 13. North Harrison connected on 22 of 51 field-goal attempts (43 percent) and 25 of 42 free throws. The Cougars had just 12 turnovers.

"The guys were aggressive, looking to get to the hole and stuff like that," Walters said. "It was the kind of night where there were a lot of fouls called where the guys were aggressive trying to get to the hole. Tyler Bement had a real good game and really saved us on the offensive end."

"I felt like I did a lot better driving and attacking the hoop than usual," Bement said. "Most of the time, I make the plays for Cory and Collin and pass them the ball, but coach was telling me to attack the rim more and get to the basket. That's what I was stepping up and trying to do."

Collins led Scottsburg with 20 points, while Christian Evans and Alex Guillion had 15 and 10, respectively. The Warriors hit 23 of 41 field-goal attempts (56 percent) and 12 of 19 free throws. Scottsburg had 23 turnovers.

"We're not the fastest group, and we're definitely not the biggest and we're not the strongest, but we have a lot of will," Walters said. "Our schedule gets real tough, and we play some quality teams and have some quality wins, but it gets real tough here and we've got to shore up some things. The guys have talked about not being satisfied and want to come in and work. It's definite they have an attitude a coach loves. They want to work hard. It's fun to see it pay off."

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