By JON REITER
Coming off a disappointing 9-11 season in 2011-12’s follow-up to the previous year’s state championship campaign, many interested observers were waiting to see what’s in store for this year’s Jeffersonville High School girls’ basketball squad.
Jeffersonville’s opening night loss last season to North Harrison in New Salisbury started off the season in a difficult fashion. Friday’s 72-57 win over the Cats hopefully will have the opposite effect, according to first-year coach Matt Pait.
“I don’t know if the girls remember that specific loss last year, but I told them before the game this is a new season, they have a new coach and a new staff,” Pait said. “When you look at the polls that opened this season, we didn’t even get any votes in the top 20. So, this is where it starts, and I think we showed what we were capable, especially in the second half.”
It was a tale of two halves. During the first half, Jeffersonville struggled.
The lead bounced back and forth throughout the first period, with the Cats emerging after the first frame with a 18-15 advantage.
Behind opening second-quarter baskets from Emily Gray and Haley Vogen, the Red Devils seized a 19-18 lead with just over seven minutes remaining in the first half. As quickly as the Red Devils gained the lead, they relinquished it. North Harrison rattled off an 11-0 run over the next 2:30 to lead 29-19 with less than five minutes remaining in the half.
North Harrison guard Kendra Lambert, who scored 16 of her team-high 20 points in the first half, nailed a three-pointer and went 4 of 6 from the line during the run. The Red Devils racked up 13 fouls during the first half as North Harrison went 11 of 19 from the charity stripe.
The free throw shooting broke any momentum Jeffersonville might have gained in the transition game, and the Red Devils trailed 40-31 at halftime.
“I think we were nervous in the first half, I really do,” Pait said. “Especially during our first few possessions, we got down a little bit, we got away from some of the things we really wanted to do, and I think in the second half, we relaxed and played our game.”
Vogen, who sat for a lengthy period during the first half with foul trouble, took over inside with the help of Gray. Vogen, a 6-foot junior center, and Gray, a 5-11 sophomore forward, entered the second half with six points apiece.
Lambert nailed a three-pointer to open the second half and give the visitors a 43-31 lead. Jeffersonville began whittling away behind Vogen, who scored 10 points during the third quarter and closed the Red Devils to within 2, 51-49, with :53.2 left following a nifty left-handed hook shot from in close.
Two free throws from Taylor Hines and a steal and basked from Hines as time ran out in the third quarter gave the Red Devils their first lead of the contest since the 2-minute mark of the second quarter, 53-51, heading into the fourth quarter.
After Lambert hit 1 of 2 free throws for North Harrison to make it 62-56 with 4:38 remaining in the game, Gray scored eight consecutive points for Jeffersonville to basically bclose out the contest.
Vogen finished with 22 points and Gray added 20.
“We held them to 17 points in the 2nd half, and we didn’t even hold them to that in either one of the two opening quarters,” Pait said. “I think we really picked up our intensity defensively, and we started to see some good things as a result.”
The Red Devils committed 21 fouls and turned the ball over 22 times, which Pait attritibuted to opening-night jitters. They forced 27 from North Harrison and outrebounded the visitors 34-24.
Jeffersonville next takes the court at Johnson Arena Friday night when they host Silver Creek.
JEFFERSONVILLE 72, NORTH HARRISON 57
North Harrison 18 22 11 6—57
Jeffersonville 15 16 22 19—72
Jeffersonville (1-0): Midgett 7, A. Hines 10, Davis 0, Gray 20, Vogen 22, Ford 2, T. Hines 9, Marshall 0, Lewis 2, Sykes 0.
North Harrison (0-1): Book 11, Lambert 20, Knight 11, Kelley 2, Gott 2, Chiquito 0, Elliott 1, Burson 10.
Rebounds: Jeffersonville 34 (Vogen 9); North Harrison 24 (Kelley 6).
Three-point goals: Jeffersonville 4 (Midgett 2, A. Hines, T. Hines); North Harrison 7 (Book, Lambert 4, Knight 2).
Turnovers: Jeffersonville 22, North Harrison 27.
Free throws: Jeffersonville 8-18, North Harrison 16-25.
Junior Varsity: Jeffersonville 36, North Harrison 25.