|Lady Cats making return trip to state|
Last year, the North Harrison Lady Cats girl’s basketball team put Class 3A on notice as they advanced all the way to the championship game at the IHSAA State Finals before losing to Heritage Christian.
However, this season was not much of a surprise, but more of a revenge factor as they planned all offseason and the regular season to prepare them for a return trip to the IHSAA State Finals as they knocked off Danville (18-11), 65-43 in the Jeffersonville Semistate on Saturday, Feb. 18.
The Lady Cats, now 27-2, will battle South Bend St. Joseph (25-2) in the Class 3A IHSAA State Finals on Saturday, Feb. 25 at 6 p.m.
“This year, we came out knowing that we were a pretty good team,” Lady Cats Coach Missy Voyles said. “We were experienced, and this was a goal we thought we could do.”
Also, this season the one player who was hoping her team would get back to the state finals is 5’8” junior guard Cali Nolot. Nolot missed the post season for the Lady Cats with an injury, but this year she has been a valuable asset to the team.
“It means everything,” Nolot said. “We just work so hard. … For it to all pay off and go back again – this time with me playing – I’m just so excited. I’m ready to go out there. We’re not losing this time.
“Defense is always everything. They have some really good shooters so we had to make sure we stayed on them. The coach was proud of us for doing that.”
Rennirt had a steal and lay-up to start the second quarter for the Lady Cats and then knocked down a 3-pointer for the 25-10 lead. Their lead stayed around 20 points in the second quarter as they outscored the Warriors 18-8 in the quarter to lead 38-18 at the break.
“During tournament time, everybody is equal. … It’s one and done,” Voyles said. “You have to come out and play every game like you’re playing the best competition you can find, because everyone is going to give you their best game at this point. They know that.
“I really wanted to pressure and I knew they had a little bit of a height advantage and I wanted to make them play fast. Really wanted to take away Lexi Riggles and didn’t want to see her take any outside shots and we done a really good job on her.”
The Warriors’ Cassie Utley scored her team’s first four points of the third quarter and Jenna Cowert hit a 3-pointer to make it a 16-point game, but Rennirt had a 3-pointer and Hatton made a basket to make it 45-24. The Warriors outscored the Lady Cats 12-9 in the third quarter, but the Lady Cats still enjoyed a 47-30 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
“With such talented teammates, it makes dealing with a double- or triple-team so easy,” Hatton said, “because they penetrate the gaps, they get inside. They dish and dump to me when they have the opportunity, but they know if I am double-teamed to look for their own offense.”
At the 6:21 mark of the fourth quarter, Nolot converted an old-fashioned 3-point play. After two minutes ticked off the clock, Nolot had another 3-point play and Hatton made a lay-up for their largest lead of 24 points, 56-32.
Hatton led all scorers with 19 points on 8 of 11 shooting from the floor and 3-for-4 from the free throw line. Nolot chipped in 16 points on 5 of 10 shooting and 5-for-6 from the charity stripe. Rennirt was the third player in double digits with 10 points. Chiquito finished with nine points.
Despite turning the ball over 19 times, the Lady Cats still came away with the win as they out rebounded the Warriors 36-21 as Hatton had 14 for a double-double. The Lady Cats also outscored the Warriors 15-7 on bench points.
Cowert led Warriors with 15 points and Ella Collier added 10.
“I have my sights set on state,” Hatton said. “We’re ready to go in and work hard on Monday, hopefully continue through the week and go win state.”
As for Coach Voyles she knew what to expect from Heritage Christian since they played last year, but as for the Indians, Voyles knows nothing about them.
“The only thing I know about them is they are big,” Voyles said. “They are athletic. Other than that not a whole lot and I know she doesn’t put anything on MaxPreps, so I will have to dig a little harder. I have already been digging.”