They had 26 turnovers and outrebounded a much smaller team by just one, but the Harrison Raiders won on Tuesday night.
They’re 2-0, which doesn’t sound all that impressive, but Tuesday’s 59-51 victory over West Lafayette in the opening round of the J&C Hoops Classic at May Gymnasium is the first time the Raiders have won their first two games in over a decade.
John Harrell’s girls basketball site dates back to the 2000-01 season, each of which Harrison started no better than 1-1. Athletic director Jerry Galema is out of town and could only confirm that “it has been a while” since the Raiders started the season with two victories.
It took two eight-point victories over West Lafayette in a span of five days, a double-double from Kaitlyn Carnahan, 18 points from Courtney Jacobsen and late free throws from Autumn Ringen, but Harrison’s girls basketball team was able to change a rather embarrassing statistic, however many years it dates back.
“The last game and tonight’s game, we came out ready to play,” said Ringen, who finished with 13 points. “In previous years, we hadn’t always been focused and ready to go at all times. And then we came out at halftime and wanted to kill them right then.”
Harrison was able to push the lead to 12 in the third quarter, getting a boost in the paint from Shailen Johnson, who finished with seven points and four rebounds off the bench.
West Lafayette’s up-tempo offense and a first-quarter buzzer-beater by Lorelei Turner put the Red Devils (0-3) ahead, 18-16.
Two baskets each by Jacobsen and Carnahan and a score by Claire Muller were part of Harrison’s 11-2 run and the Raiders never trailed again, outscoring West Lafayette 28-16 in the middle two quarters.
“We didn’t do a very good job reading them defensively, so I felt like we were trying to make tough shots,” WL coach Jane Schott said. “I believe in my team. I know it will come, but right now we’re just making some mistakes that, in that middle two quarters, it really hurt us.”
Turner finished with 16 points and nine rebounds and Jessica Martin had 12 points and seven rebounds for the Red Devils, who face Lafayette Jeff in Thursday’s consolation bracket.
The Red Devils were able to close the gap to five twice in the fourth quarter, once on Jessica Martin’s rebound bucket and again on Taylor Martin’s 3-pointer, but the Raiders were able to seal the game at the line, getting free throws from Maggie Shandrick, Carnahan, Jacobsen and Ringen in the final 1:33.
“We’re trying to win as many games as we can, and with us playing hard, playing tough, we can accomplish anything, I think,” Jacobsen said. “Two wins is great, and it is momentum carrying us into the next game.”
Harrison was able to offset its 26 turnovers by shooting 54.1 percent (20 of 37) and limiting West Side to 31.7 percent (20 of 63). West Lafayette guard Shelby Mann, who averaged 13.8 points per game last season, was held to six on 3-of-19 shooting.
The tournament host Raiders play Central Catholic on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. in the semifinal. Each team has advanced to the girls J&C Hoops Classic championship game only once and neither has won the tournament, now in its ninth year.
The Raiders were runner-up to Benton Central last season.
“We knew right after we lost, right after we were runner-up, that we were going to win the next year,” said Carnahan, who had 10 points and 10 rebounds. “That’s been our goal.”