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Lady Cats escape late Salem run

Class 3A Sectional 30 First Round

February 15, 2012
The North Harrison Lady Cats held off a late charge by the Salem Lady Lions to advance to the semi-finals of the Class 3A sectional at Charlestown. Key free throws by freshman Kim Chiquito late in the fourth quarter helped North Harrison secure the 61-47 win.

"We just really fizzled offensively about the five-minute mark in the fourth quarter," Lady Cats coach Missy Voyles said. "We kind of fell apart for a little while. I think they were surprised to be up by as much as they were. I don't know if it was as much offense as we kept losing people on defense, telling them not to help off on certain people, and you do it anyway."

North Harrison’s Kasey Kelley gets into a wrestling match with Salem’s Alex Davidson as the pair hit the deck in the first half. Photo by Wade Bell
The Lady Cats came out tight to begin the game, hitting just one of their first 10 shots. The good thing was North Harrison's defense held Salem to just four attempts in the first five minutes.

Ashley Malloy put up a short jumper for the Lady Lions for a 4-3 edge, but the Lady Cats scored the next nine points for a 12-4 advantage after the first eight minutes.

North Harrison continued to dominate in the second period, pushing its lead to 23-9 five minutes into the second period. The two teams played even through the remainder of the half, with the Lady Cats taking a 30-16 lead to the locker room at halftime.

"I think we came out pretty aggressive and we were in the passing lanes," Voyles said of her team's defense. "We mixed our defense up, which we didn't do the last time we played them. We weren't ready to be mixing up defenses. It's like that in December, but we were mixing things up in that area and keeping them off balance. I think that helped us build a lead early on."

North Harrison gave itself more breathing room midway through the third period with an 8-2 burst for a 43-24 advantage. The lead briefly went to 22 on a Kendra Lambert three-ball, but Malloy drilled a three at the end of the period that would spark a Salem fourth-quarter run.

Malloy began the fourth with another three then Brittney Walker fired up two from behind the arc to pull Salem to within 55-41 and force North Harrison to call a time-out with 5:30 to go.

"They had a good little spurt there," Voyles said.

Hayley Renneker swished a Lady Cat free throw, but that didn't break the Salem run, as the Lady Lions scored the next six points to close the gap to single digits at 56-47.

Salem, however, missed its next five shots. Chiquito, on the other hand, canned five of six attempts from the charity stripe for the Lady Cats, pushing the North Harrison lead to 61-47, the game's final score.

"That was big, especially for a freshman," Voyles said. "She wouldn't have been in here. We put her in there because of Kendra (being hurt). … We turned the ball over a lot there towards the end. You can't do that and win big games."

Lambert sank five three-pointers to lead the winners with 23 points. The Lady Cats hit 22 of 49 field-goal attempts (45 percent) and 11 of 19 free throws. North Harrison had 18 turnovers.

"We started off doing everything I wanted to do defensively," Voyles said. "We were just not putting in the bunnies. Once we finally hit a couple, we kind of cut loose a little bit. It's the opening sectional game. Typically in an opening sectional game, you've got low-percentage shooting and high turnovers right on the opening night. Everybody's a little anxious, and they turn the ball over a few more times. You tend to miss some things."

Malloy led Salem with 18 points, and Walker put in 15. Salem connected on just 19 of 59 attempts from the field (32 percent) and hit 3 of 5 free-throw attempts. The Lady Lions had 15 turnovers.

"We did a real good job on (Malloy and Walker) the first half, then we kind of fell apart with it the second half," Voyles said. "We did a good job keeping them where we wanted them the first half, and then we kind of let them get away from us a little bit the second half."

Voyles was glad to get that first sectional game out of the way.

"You get that first game in then it kind of levels the playing field because anybody can come and play hard any night," she said. "You just don't know."

"We're doing good things at the right time," she said. "I feel like we're three weeks where I would like for us to be. I wish we had another month. I feel like we're starting to do some things the way I want us to do it. We're thinking a little more."

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