North Harrison got the best of visiting Eastern in a top-10 Mid-Southern Conference showdown Friday night.
The Class 3A No. 2 Lady Cats jumped out to a 15-1 lead after one and weathered the Musketeers’ third-quarter flurry in a 56-40 win at home in both teams’ conference opener. North Harrison improved to 3-0 with the win, and Eastern dropped to 1-1.
Sophomore forward Lilly Hatton led a balanced offensive attack for North Harrison, tallying 19 points on 8-of-15 shooting to go along with six rebounds and three early blocks. Junior guards Taylor Rennirt and Cali Nolot added 14 points apiece and combined for nine rebounds and six assists. Junior guard Hallie Hinton added five points and a team-high six helpers.
North Harrison coach Missy Voyles said the Lady Cats’ offensive balance is vital as often as opposing defenses collapse on the 6-foot-1 Hinton down low.
“You’ve got a lot of people that want to lay on Lilly and double-team her,” Voyles said. “If Nolot and Rennirt can put the ball in the basket. … (Hinton) can typically score for you. Emma Nokes can put the ball in the basketball. If you’ve got four or five kids that can score, then it’s not as easy to double-team her.”
GALLERY: North Harrison vs. Eastern
Senior forward Taylor Drury turned in a 22-point performance for Eastern in the losing effort, hitting nine of her 12 shot attempts and pulling down six rebounds to boot. Senior guard Holly Purlee and sophomore guard Isabell Claywell each added five points for the Musketeers.
It was North Harrison’s defense that led to its offense early on, as the hosts forced Eastern into 10 first-quarter turnovers. The Lady Cats hit seven of 17 shots in the first period and held the Musketeers to 0-of-8 shooting. Hatton had six points, three rebounds and all three of her blocked shots in the opening quarter.
Eastern recorded its first field goal with 6:59 left in the first half, but North Harrison led 18-3 and netted seven of 11 attempts in the second quarter to extend its lead to 32-14 at the break. Drury wouldn’t lay down easy, though.
The senior University of Indianapolis commit posted 12 of her 22 points in the third quarter on 5-of-5 shooting to cut the Musketeers’ deficit to 36-27 on an elbow jumper with 2:39 showing. Eastern scored 17 points in the third on 7-of-11 shooting after sinking just 5 of 20 attempts for 14 points in the first half.
“I’m going to give Taylor Drury a lot of credit,” Voyles said, “because she hit some really good shots with hands in her face. She kind of went into a little zone there. She’s a good player. I’m not going to take anything away from her. It wasn’t us not playing good defense as much as she was that good.”
The Musketeers’ run, however, didn’t carry over to the fourth quarter. Eastern hit one of its first six shots to begin the final period while North Harrison orchestrated an 11-4 run to make a 52-35 lead late. The hosts went 6-for-6 from the charity stripe down the stretch.
North Harrison turns around to host Charlestown Saturday at 7:30 p.m., while Eastern travels to Southwestern.
Eastern: 1 – 13 – 17 – 9 – 40
North Harrison: 15 – 17 – 9 – 15 – 56
North Harrison (3-0, 1-0): Hatton 19, Rennirt 14, Nolot 14, Hinton 5, Nokes 2, Kondovski 2
3-point goals: Nolot 2, Hinton
Eastern (1-1, 0-1): Drury 22, Purlee 5, Claywell 5, Stewart 4, Sponcel 3, Judson 1
3-point goals: Drury, Purlee, Sponcel