North Harrison falls to Madison
By Brian Smith, Contributing Writer
North Harrison got a second crack at Madison Consolidated a week after facing the Lady Cubs.
The rematch was as tough as trying to disassemble a walnut without a nutcracker. Madison Consolidated, host of the Class 3A girls’ basketball sectional, held off a late charge by the Lady Cats to advance, 50-46, beyond the first round last Wednesday.
“We had no easy ways to score tonight,” said North Harrison coach Jamie Kolkmeier. “They challenged us. Everything was pretty hard. We had really good effort down the stretch to get close. We had some almost steals during that stretch, but we couldn’t get it.”
It was a strong scoring night for North Harrison guard Ali Saunders, who picked up 22. Those points propelled the junior past the 1,000-point scoring mark for her career.
On the other side, Madison Consolidated’s 6-foot-1 Jade Nutley was strong on the floor again. The senior pumped in 19 points and yanked 15 rebounds.
It looked as if the game was going to get away from North Harrison in the fourth quarter. Trailing 46-37 with two minutes to play, one last pounce was in the Lady Cats.
The team’s lone senior, Skylie Burns, netted a triple. Thirty seconds later, Saunders got on the board to get North Harrison within four, 46-42. After a Saunders steal, she was fouled to put her at the line. A pair of swishes put the deficit at two with 57 seconds remaining.
In that final minute, Madison Consolidated stayed the course, as Taylor Lynch and Lundun Perry combined to make four free throws. North Harrison was only able to add a late Saunders bucket to reach the final score.
“I was glad it didn’t get away from us,” said Kolkmeier. “They fought back to get to two points, but Madison was able to hit their free throws.”
North Harrison was hopeful an early 3-pointer to start the second half would open things offensively. Trailing by two at the break, McKenna Pearson nailed the long ball from the corner. The 26-25 lead would be the final of the night for North Harrison. After Diana Burgher scored a North Harrison field goal to even the score at 28, Madison Consolidated closed the third quarter on a 10-3 burst.
“McKenna hit a three for us, and we hoped she’d get it going,” said Kolkmeier. “We hoped it would open some things up a little bit … We were busy trying to find ways to score.”
Evidence of the trouble came at the end of the second and third quarters. Holding for the final shot in each, the Lady Cats saw Saunders make a 3 but let the shot off after the second-quarter horn. A shot was blocked to close the third.
“One thing we didn’t do well at all was our end of quarters,” said Kolkmeier. “We didn’t attack and waited way too long in the second and third quarters to get shots before the buzzer. It wasn’t good execution at the end of quarters. We have to get better at that.”
Burgher finished with 12 points and six boards. Emma Robertson, Saunders and Burns had four boards apiece as well.
“It’s tough to be positive when you lose, but it’s been a really good year,” said Kolkmeier. “It’s a really good group of girls. Who do you want to draw in this sectional? There are no easy nights in this sectional no matter who you draw. You have to play every night.”
Although neither scored, Kolkmeier lauded the efforts of Molly Coomer and Robertson.
“I thought Emma had really good energy in the third and fourth quarters. She gave us opportunities for some second chances,” he said. “Molly was fighting like crazy for us.”
In a strange season, dealing with COVID-19, North Harrison closed with a 12-6 record.
“We get everyone back, but we are really going to miss Skylie,” said Kolkmeier. “She had such a great start of the year and had to miss basically three weeks. It’s a season that really wasn’t fair to her, and a lot of kids in this state and country probably feel the same way. She’s a great leader and a great person.”
Madison Consolidated 11 14 13 12 – 50
North Harrison 9 14 8 15 – 46
Madison – Nutley 19, Perry 10, Cahall 6, Jay 6, Cahall 6, Traylor 5, Lynch 4.
North Harrison – Saunders 22, Burgher 12, Burns 9, Pearson 3.
3-point goals – Madison 3 (Jay 2, Traylor 1); North Harrison 5 (Burns 2, Burgher 1, Pearson 1, Saunders 1).