Turnaround Eagles turn back North Harrison
Three quick treys, combined with a high-quality defensive effort throughout the night, kept the surging Lanesville boys' basketball team on a roll in the new year, posting a 55-41 win over visiting North Harrison Friday night.
Coming off an emotional loss the week before to Class A No. 1 Orleans via a last-second shot, Lanesville tossed that memory into the shadows and came out firing against the Cougars. North Harrison opened with a quick basket, but the Eagles turned in an 11-0 run, giving themselves an 11-2 advantage. Junior John Kissel started the parade with a three-pointer, followed by a pair of long balls from Cody Hussung. The treys were the only ones of the game for the Eagles, but they were important to starting off strong. Tom Walter topped the run with a hoop inside.
North Harrison coach Chris Martin said allowing the Eagles to a fast start put them behind too quickly against a tough defensive team that had been playing well lately.
"They did a nice job to find Hussung for two straight and Kissel hit one," Martin said. "They hit those three jump shots in a row, and it's 9-2. We weren't able to rotate back out. When you get down 9-2 to a team that plays good defensively, it becomes tough to overcome."
The Cougars (2-11) had been playing well lately as well, picking up a win over Floyd Central the week before after a narrow loss to Eastern (Pekin). As the game progressed, North Harrison was able to trade baskets with the Eagles, keeping within striking distance. After Joe Bolin swished a three-pointer to cut the Eagle lead to 25-18, the Lanesville defense kicked into high gear. Following a Walter basket, two steals turned into four points on fast-breaks by Jarrett Beach and Jeffrey Hammond. With the late surge, Lanesville had a comfortable 31-18 advantage heading into halftime.
The teams traded points throughout the third quarter, which was frustrating for Martin and the Cougars, who couldn't get a consistent scoring run going.
"We kept talking the whole night, that if we could make two in a row, and I will probably be saying that until two in the morning," Martin said. "We just couldn't find anything offensively, but that is their defensive pressure. They played good defense and rotated well."
Lanesville's offense has picked up recently with the improved play of Kissel running the point. Kissel finished the game with a team high 13 points.
Walter also had a strong game inside, which became the Eagle focus after jumping out to the fast start. The senior big-man finished with a double-double, pulling down 12 rebounds and scoring 12 points. The 12 boards were a part of Lanesville's season best 41 team rebounds. Kenton Acton had 11 boards to go with his four points and Bryant Conder had six points and five rebounds, as well.
North Harrison was paced by eight points each from Cody Johnson, Jim Bob Schuler and Bolin. In a balanced effort, nine different Cougars scored on the evening.
"We picked up some things," Martin said. "Last week, we had three really good practices and this week our practices have not been as solid. That is what we talked about after the game, we can't just show up and expect things to happen, we have to work everyday to help improve anymore."
Defensively, Martin, who is in his first head coaching position since heading the Lanesville program from 1998-2000, was fairly pleased with the performance, but will still hope the offense can continue to create opportunities.
"North Harrison played hard all night long, they certainly didn't give up," Lanesville coach Mikel Miller said of his opponents. "Coach Martin is doing a nice job with them. He has some young kids that played some JV and got in the varsity and did some nice things for them. You know, he has that team going in the right direction."
North Harrison followed the Lanesville loss with another defeat, this time to the mercy of Mid-Southern Conference leader Salem, 77-44. The Cougars will host West Washington Friday, then travel to Madison on Saturday.