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Lady Cats hold off late Austin run


January 18, 2012
The North Harrison Lady Cats held off a late charge by the visiting Austin Lady Eagles Thursday night to earn a 71-67 Mid-Southern Conference win. The game was the Lady Cats' first since they played Henryville on Dec. 17.

CHIQUITO
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Austin’s Jessie Davidson (25) gets blitzed by North Harrison’s Brittany Knight, right, Kendra Lambert and Kim Chiquito during North Harrison’s 71-67 win. Photo by Wade Bell
"Everybody coming in tonight kept saying, 'Oh, are you ready?' " coach Missy Voyles said. "I'm like, 'I don't know. We haven't played in a while. I have no idea what they're going to do tonight. We'll see.' "

The Lady Cats didn't look like a team that hadn't played in three weeks when they hit the floor in the first period. North Harrison jumped out to a 13-6 lead with Kendra Lambert and Alex Gott knocking down three-pointers. The Lady Cats held that seven-point advantage, 15-8, at the end of the period.

Lambert, who was getting some individual attention from Austin's box-and-one defense, scored inside to start the second period. North Harrison got some help off the bench from Brittany Knight and Kim Chiquito as the Lady Cats pushed their advantage to 27-13.

Austin got three-pointers from Kaitlyn Embrey and Megan Smith to help pull the Lady Eagles within eight, 31-23. Lambert then went on a terror, putting away a deuce and a pair of triples in the last minute of the half, as she outscored Austin 8-4 to give North Harrison a 39-27 halftime advantage.

Voyles said her team executed well what it had practiced over the break.

"We were just trying to be a little more fluid," Voyles said. "We struggle to find the open man, and I thought we did a better job of creating shots for each other. We typically don't. That's kind of a low for us."

Lambert continued to put pressure on the Lady Eagles in the second half, scoring North Harrison's first six points in a 6-4 burst for a 47-31 Lady Cat lead. North Harrison continued to hold a double-digit lead until midway through the fourth period when Austin made one last charge.

The Lady Eagles began the quarter with an 11-4 run, with Jessie Davidson and Smith getting old-fashioned three-pointers to close the gap to seven at 60-53. The gap later shrunk to six, but Knight got four straight Lady Cat points to push the lead back to 10.

Austin again charged, this time with a 9-3 burst that closed the gap to three, 68-65. North Harrison was getting opportunities at the free-throw line but connected on only 3 of 8 attempts. Knight and Hayley Renneker found the freebies in the final 30 seconds, which was enough to secure the 71-67 win.

"We kind of broke down there a little bit the last 10 minutes," Voyles said. "We just started sputtering on offense and then we started feeling the pressure a little bit and we started making mistakes we weren't making early because we were thinking about it too much. I was more upset about us losing people in transition on defense than I was our offense."

Lambert led the Lady Cats with 27 points. Knight and Chiquito, both sophomores, came off the bench for 13 and 10 points, respectively. The Lady Cats hit 25 of 53 field-goal attempts (47 percent) but only 14 of 29 free throws. North Harrison had 21 turnovers.

Voyles said Knight and Chiquito have become big additions with her team currently plagued by injuries.

"Chiquito had a good Christmas break and Knight did, too," she said. "Chiquito, I don't know who turned the light on for her over Christmas break, but she just came back one day. … I looked at her one day after practice and said, 'Who are you? Where did you come from, because I don't know where you came from.' "

Voyles said Knight's strength has been her defense.

"That's the one thing I said she would add to our team this year," she said. "She does a good job creating shots and shots for other people. She does a good job defensively. She just really gets after it defensively. It's a good first game for her."

Davidson led Austin with 27 points, and Smith followed with 14 for the Lady Eagles, who hit 24 of 64 field-goal attempts (38 percent) and 13 of 24 free throws. The Lady Eagles turned the ball over 14 times.

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