Lady Cats bounce Crawford
By Wade Bell, Sports Writer
The Crawford County Lady Pack basketball team was hit yet again by the 2020 curse when its two senior starters, Autumn Schigur and Treasure Nickelson, sustained injuries, knocking them out of last Tuesday night game’s against visiting North Harrison.
Despite the shorthandedness, Crawford County put up a good fight for two quarters but the Lady Cats’ strength proved to be too much in the end with North Harrison taking home a 68-44 win.
“We didn’t have any problem with our offense,” said North Harrison assistant coach Barry Geltmaker, taking the helm for head coach Jamie Kolkmeier who was still in quarantine at the time of the game. “We passed it around. We threw a couple of wild passes but, defensive-wise, we were just horrible the first half. I told them some kind words and said we need to get our heads on straight and get out here and play some defense.”
“Minus those two kids (Schigur and Nickelson), I felt like the kids that dressed and played had a chance to be in the ballgame,” said Crawford County coach Chris Broughton. “I feel good about our scoring tonight. We’re playing a lot of kids that are inexperienced right now. They’re going to make some mistakes. We’re going to have to live with that. If you’re a sophomore guard or even a junior that hasn’t played, you’re going to make mistakes. The goal is I can’t let that go for two, three, four or five games. … ”
North Harrison came out firing at the start, racing out to an 8-0 lead in the first quarter. Taylor Herbaugh and Sarah Stutzman countered with a deuce and three-ball, quickly closing the gap to three with both teams battling hard under the basket. With Crawford County struggling with turnovers, the Lady Cats scored the next seven points. Herbaugh hit from behind the arc, but Molly Coomer and Diana Burgher answered with five and North Harrison had a 19-8 advantage after one quarter.
The second period was played mostly from an offensive standpoint with a combined 44 points being scored in the eight minutes. Crawford County went downtown hitting five three-pointers in the quarter and 7 of 11 shots from the field. Herbaugh pulled Crawford County back into a single-digit deficit with a three closing the gap to eight, 22-14, but Burgher immediately countered with a deuce and Coomer added a triple.
North Harrison kept its advantage in double-digits until Makaylin Sheckells drilled a Crawford County three. The Lady Cats turned the ball over then called timeout. Crawford County missed on the opportunity to close the gap further, missing a deuce, then Ali Saunders went long for three. Herbaugh scored in the paint, but Saunders fired up her second three starting a 7-0 run. Sheckells scored in the paint, and the half ended with the Lady Cats up 43-28.
“We didn’t guard anybody,” said Geltmaker. “They switched, and nobody picked somebody up. (Crawford County) just stood out there and hit threes. It was like playing HORSE.”
“It was an ugly first half,” Geltmaker said. “I yelled at them a little bit at halftime. I didn’t have much to say. I just told them to get their butts in gear and play a little defense because we didn’t play any the first half. When you give up seven three-pointers, it’s ridiculous.”
“I said (to the players), ‘That’s all I’ve got to tell you,’ and I walked out,” he said. “They sat in there and talked for a little bit, and I guess they figured it out they were going to have to play some defense instead of getting yelled at the whole time. They did play a little better then.”
The Crawford County coach said, “We gave up 43 points in the first half. That’s not going to cut it. We’ve got a lot of kids that are going to figure it out.
“We struggled to find Saunders in transition and we talked a lot about that,” he continued. “She’s a good player. She’s the best point guard we’re going to play against all year. Give her a lot of credit. It’s a lot easier for me to say that and execute, but we lost her in transition too much.”
North Harrison’s defense made it much more difficult for the Lady Pack in the third quarter with Crawford County connecting on just two of 11 shots from the field. The Lady Cats sputtered offensively at the start of the period, hitting just one of their first six shots. Midway through the period, however, that changed as the Lady Cats found their range and went on an 11-0 run, hitting five straight shots for a 57-32 lead.
Crawford County never recovered from that point on.
The third quarter was a case of Saunders and Burgher taking over the game offensively for the Lady Cats with Coomer being a solid supporting cast member.
“Them two pass the ball really well to each other,” Geltmaker said. “Ali looks for her all of the time, and she cuts well. She’s starting to catch everything Ali throws to her. Ali did what Ali usually does.
“The one that really stepped up tonight was Molly Coomer,” he said. “She’s been hitting shots and stuff for us. If we get Skylie back and get her hitting and Skylie hitting, we’ll be very competitive around the area.”
“We knew we weren’t going to be able to press as much,” Broughton said of the Lady Pack. “We were able to press a little bit, and I think we turned them over the times we did. We knew we weren’t going to be as quick of a team but we could be long and athletic, so we tried to pack it in and change a little bit about that. We just really struggled to hustle back on defense at times and stop their transition game. Give Saunders a lot of credit for being able to push the ball and find her teammates.”
Saunders led the Lady Cats with 25 points for the night, and Burgher followed with 18. Coomer totaled up 13 points for North Harrison, which canned 23 of 47 shots from the field (49%) and 13 of 19 free throws. The Lady Cats had 15 turnovers, nine of those in the second half.
“We need to talk a little more on defense,” said Geltmaker. “That’s our biggest problem. We don’t talk and just kind of float around. Coach Kolkmeier really stresses defense, and he’s more of a defensive coach. He’s not going to enjoy watching that tape at all of that first half. I don’t blame him. I wouldn’t either.”
Herbaugh led the Lady Pack with 17 point for the game, and Stutzman finished with 12 points. Crawford County put in 16 of 39 field goals (41%) and 4 of 6 free throws. The Lady Pack struggled with turnovers in three periods, coughing up the ball 24 times for the game. Broughton said he would have liked to see his team haul in a few more rebounds.
“It seemed like we couldn’t rebound at times when we really needed to rebound,” he said. “We felt like if we were going to be in the game at the end, we were going to have to out-rebound them. It’s something we’ve got to work on. I think that comes from a little game experience. That comes with some practice time. I think that will improve also.”
Crawford County has run a tough gauntlet to start the season, and Broughton is looking forward to playing some opponents more even with his team.
“Even minus Autumn and Treasure, we had a team that could play with (North Harrison),” Broughton said. “That should give our kids confidence, and that’s what we believe in the kids. So, we’ll get it figured out. These games early I always feel like we’re better off for it going through the gauntlet at the beginning of the season. We finally turn the corner at the end of November and the start of December, and we’ll get some games where we’ll be even. That’s where you have to play harder. You have to get after it more, and the team that wants it more usually comes out on top.”
North Harrison 19 24 14 11 – 68
Crawford County 8 20 7 9 – 44
North Harrison – Saunders 25, Burgher 18, Coomer 13, Pearson 5, Robertson 5, Case 2
Crawford County – Herbaugh 17, Stutzman 12, Dennis 5, Sheckells 5, Holzbog 4, Kerce 1
3-pointers – North Harrison 5 (Saunders 2, Burgher 1, Coomer 1, Pearson 1); Crawford County 8 (Herbaugh 3, Stutzman 2, Dennis 1, Holzbog 1, Sheckells 1).