JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. – For the second consecutive season, North Harrison girls basketball will vie for its first-ever state championship.
Class 3A’s No. 1-ranked Cats (27-2) led by as many as 24 and ran away with a 65-43 win over Danville (18-11) at Saturday’s Jeffersonville semi-state, clinching a return trip to Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The defending runner-up, North Harrison will meet No. 2 South Bend St. Joseph (25-2) at 6 p.m. next Saturday for the program’s inaugural crown.
The state-championship run for North Harrison – now 55-5 in the past two years – a season ago was unexpected, but coach Missy Voyles said this year’s success is no surprise.
“This year, we came out knowing that we were a pretty good team,” Voyles said. “We were experienced, and this was a goal we thought we could do.”
Sophomore forward Lilly Hatton led the way 19 points and 14 rebounds, and versatile junior Cali Nolot tallied 16 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. Nolot, who missed the Cats’ postseason run a year ago due to injury, said North Harrison has a chip on its shoulder ahead of Saturday’s state championship.
“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.”
Junior Taylor Rennirt added 10 points for North Harrison, and junior Jessicka Chiquito chipped in nine, which included two first-half 3-pointers. Jenna Cowert scored 15 for Danville. The Warriors entered giving up just 35.7 points per game, but the Cats, who shot 55 percent on the game, totaled 38 in the first half en route to the final. By way of the IHSAA Tournament Success Factor, North Harrison will move to Class 4A next season.
The Cats opened the game on a 6-0 run before Danville responded with its first bucket three minutes in. The Warriors brought it within 8-5 midway through the first period, but North Harrison turned in an 11-1 run to open up a 13-point lead with less than two minutes left. The Cats, who went 7 of 11 from the floor, forced four first-quarter turnovers en route to a 20-10 lead.
Rennirt opened the second quarter with five straight points, igniting yet another North Harrison run. Back-to-back buckets from Hatton later made a 31-14 lead with five minutes left until halftime, and a 3-pointer by Chiquito capped a 15-4 spurt for North Harrison midway through.
The Cats outscored the Warriors 18-8 in the second. They held Danville to 33-percent shooting and went 12-for-18 in the first half on the way to a 38-18 lead. Voyles said North Harrison’s one-game-at-a-time mentality was evident Saturday night.
“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.”
The Warriors scored the first four points of the second half before Hatton managed an answer two minutes in. Another Hatton bucket, preceded by a Rennirt 3-pointer, gave the Cats a 45-24 lead. Danville continued to chip away, though, and the Cats took a 47-30 advantage into the fourth.
With less than six minutes left, a Nolot 3-point play made for a 51-32 lead – an advantage that held until another Nolot and-one two minutes later. A Hatton basket on the ensuing possession gave North Harrison its largest lead at 56-32, and the Cats cruised to the final.
Hatton was pressured throughout, per usual, but her teammates did more than enough to compensate. Ten Cats scored or assisted on a made basket Saturday.
“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.”
After finishing just shy of a state title a season ago, Hatton said the expectation this year is the program’s first-ever championship.
“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.”
Class 3A Semi-State at Jeffersonville
North Harrison 65, Danville 43
Cats (27-2): Lilly Hatton 19p, 14r; Cali Nolot 16p, 7r, 3a; Taylor Rennirt 10p, 4a, 3r; Hallie Hinton 2a; Jessicka Chiquito 9p; Stevi Burns 5p; Emma Nokes 2p, 4r; Shelby Kondovski 2p; Madison Shelton 1p; Savana Rhodes 1p
Warriors (18-11): Jenna Cowert 15p, 5r, 2a; Ella Collier 10p, 6r; Caddie Utley 7p; Baylee Muse 7p; Lexi Riggles 2p; Addie Collier 2p, 5r
Wood Memorial wins opener
Class 1A No. 1 Wood Memorial knocked off No. 7 Indianapolis Tindley 59-50 in Game 1 at Jeffersonville Saturday. The Trojans advance to their first state-final appearance since the 2006-07 season. Wood (27-1) will meet Union City (24-4) in next Saturday’s championship at 10:30 a.m. Tindley’s season ended at 21-7.
Brenna Maikranz led the Trojans’ balanced attack with 18 points, and Chloe Bartley totaled 16. Two other Wood players – Lexi Lashbrook and Sydney Day – added 10. Trinae Love paced the Tigers with 16 points.
Tindley led 21-20 after a high-scoring first quarter, but Wood raced ahead 35-31 at the half. The Trojans pushed their advantage to 10 midway through the third quarter and held a sizeable lead the rest of the way.
Class 1A Semi-State at Jeffersonville
Wood Memorial 59, Indianapolis Tindley 50
Trojans (27-1): Brenna Maikranz 18p, 5r; Chloe Bartley 16p, 7r; Lexi Lashbrook 10p, 10r; Sydney Day 10p, 6r; Morgan Loveless 4p; Carsen Robinson 1p
Tigers (21-7): Trinae Love 16p, 9r; Kendall Fisher 14p; Skye Williams 12p, 11r; Nola Wilson 6p, Nyceah Terry 2p