Cougars pound Crawford 62-32
By Wade Bell, Sports Writer
The Crawford County Wolfpack and North Harrison Cougars had their annual rivalry game Friday night in Ron Ferguson Gymnasium, and the game turned into a rout for the Cougars with a 30-point win. For the Wolfpack, coach Jerry Hanger Jr. and his team had little time to prepare, coming in off of another quarantine with just five days of practice and two games following the quarantine.
“It’s been hard for us to adjust,” Hanger said after the game. “We practiced on Friday, went to Tell City, practiced Monday, played South Central. This is the fifth time we’ve been back in the gym since we’ve been out of quarantine. We’ve had two practices and three games.”
Crawford County held its own against the Cougars early on. Both teams struggled to score in the first couple of minutes, then Ethan Oakley sandwiched a pair of threes around an Austin Mattingly deuce. Trevor Harvey scored in the paint for the Wolfpack, but Oakley scored again to keep North Harrison in front by four. Brody Fessel later drove the lane for two, but Noah Adams drilled a three for the Wolfpack at the end of the period and the Wolfpack was down three after one quarter of play.
“It looked after the first quarter like it was going to be an easy night, but really they outplayed us in the second quarter quite a bit,” said North Harrison coach Lou Lefevre. “It looked like they put themselves in a position to get back in the game. They cut it down from 20 to 14, and they had the momentum so you don’t know how it’s going to turn.”
The Cougars went on a rage in the second quarter, scoring the first 10 points of the period, with Riley Schneider getting six of those for a 27-7 lead. A free throw by Nick Higgins finally stopped the run, and Crawford County got a little bit of traction to close the gap to 31-17 following a three-ball by Harvey to end the half.
“At halftime, the only thing I was concerned about was that our goal in this game was that we were going to put our total focus on Harvey and Adams,” Lefevre said. “They’ve scored almost 80% of their team’s points. That’s an incredible high percentage. If those two aren’t scoring a lot, then they’re going to have a tough time scoring enough points to beat you.”
“In the first half, Harvey and Adams were both beating us,” he said. “Harvey was getting some open looks in the second quarter, and Adams was getting in the lane and scoring. That got them to a point where they had a chance to get back in the game.”
Hanger said the number of fouls on the scoreboard indicated that his team needed to be more aggressive.
“There were no issues with the officiating, but we’re not being aggressive taking it at them,” Hanger said. “The fouls that we got, I guarantee you, 90% of them we were fouling them in the paint because they were taking it at us and taking it to the rim. We settle for shots. We settle for three-pointers. We settle for jump shots outside and try to stay out of contact.”
Crawford County’s shooting went into a skid in the third period with the Wolfpack hitting just two of their nine attempts from the field. The Cougars outscored Crawford County 14-5 in the quarter, leading to a 45-22 advantage. The Wolfpack failed to gain any ground in the fourth quarter with North Harrison outscoring Crawford County by seven, allowing the Cougars to get the 62-32 win.
“Defensively, sometimes we’re not always in tune with what we’re supposed to be the most concerned with,” Lefevre said. “We had a lack of focus in the first half. What we were supposed to be concerned with was when we gave them chances that kept them in the game … In the third quarter, we made a few plays and we didn’t really give them anything easy for a while and that kind of put the game away.”
“I think the bottom line tonight was being the aggressor,” Hanger said. “We talked about it early and tried to make sure we reiterated we need to start being aggressive, having the confidence and being able to take it to the basket. When we don’t have the confidence and barely make a move, we make lazy passes or start to panic. You’ve got to have that mentality that you’re going to take it to the hole.”
Langdon Hatton led the Cougars with 26 points. North Harrison fired in 20 of 45 shots from the field (44%) and 19 of 24 from the charity stripe. The Cougars had 13 turnovers for the game.
“Eventually, LT got some chances and made some nice plays,” Lefevre said. “LT getting chances to score is a lot related to what the other players are doing. The other players made good maneuvers that enabled him to get the ball where he could score. Then, he was able to get it and finish it. They were swarming him, and that’s the way to keep teams from being super aggressive and chopping your arms, is to make the free throws and make them pay. They weren’t worried about making fouls. They just wanted to make sure he didn’t have an easy time scoring. If he were to go to the line and make five of 10, that’s pretty good strategy. But if you make them all, that’s not going to be an effective way to stop them.”
“The objective we had tonight was to take it right at Hatton and try to get them out of the game and draw fouls, and we didn’t do that,” Hanger said. “But give North Harrison credit. They’re a good ball team. I was really impressed with their defense.”
“Hatton was 10 of 10 from the free-throw line,” Hanger said. “I actually think Keith (Brooks) played pretty good. Hatton had to earn his points. I think he earned his points, and I was impressed with our defense on (Logan) McIntire. McIntire is a good ball player, too. He ended up with five. To me, he’s probably one of their best players all around.”
Harvey led the Wolfpack with 14 for the game, and Adams was held to five. The Wolfpack connected on 13 of 40 field goals (33%) and 3 of 4 free throws. Crawford County had 16 turnovers for the game.
“All in all, Trevor ended up with 14,” Hanger said. “Noah Adams only had five points; Keith Brooks two points. Noah’s been getting in foul trouble. Noah needs to get back to Noah. He needs to get back to playing and get back to the mentality to playing, ‘Nobody can guard me.’ He told me tonight he couldn’t do something. I said, ‘Well, Noah, if you’re telling me you can’t do something, that’s already in your head.’ He’s not been the same since he came back from COVID. He’s a good kid and I love him to death, but he’s not been the same since he had COVID. He’s physically strong and all of that, but it just takes a toll on you and you have to get back in shape and get back in the groove of things.”
“I want us to keep trying to be better in all aspects of the game, and that gives you a chance to win the big games down the road,” Lefevre said. “That’s what I’m hammering at. Whether I ever hit the nail or not, I don’t know, but I’m swinging the hammer and maybe some day we’ll hit the nail and everything will be as well as it could be.”
North Harrison 10 21 14 17 – 62
Crawford County 7 10 5 10 – 32
North Harrison – Hatton 26, Wetzel 9, Oakley 8, Fessel 7, Schneider 7, McIntire 5.
Crawford County – Harvey 14, Adams 5, Higgins 5, Mattingly 2, Nickelson 2, Satterfield 2, Talley 2.
3-pointers – North Harrison 1 (Fessel); Crawford County 3 (Harvey 2, Adams 1).