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Hall helps North Miami steal away win from Taylor

BY TRENT SCOTT - tscott@perutribune.com

CENTER – Trailing Taylor by 10 at halftime in its girls’ basketball season opener, North Miami had to resort to thievery to find its way to a victory.

The kind of thievery in question was committed by Hannah Hall, who record nine steals in the third quarter, helping the Warriors to a 23-7 score line in the period and a 60-50 win over the Titans.

The game may have been the first of the season for the Warriors but it was the fourth for Taylor, who showed a shooting touch that defied their 0-3 record in the first half, something North Miami head coach Steve McClure said took some time to get used to.

“It took a while for our kids to get up to game speed as it was our first game and Taylor’s fourth,” McClure said. “That had a lot to do with the start we had.

“The girls weren’t terrible but we just weren’t as active as we had been in practice. What everyone saw in the second half was closer to what we’ve looked like in practice.”

Lynzey Butzin opened the game with a three and it took over three minutes for the visitors to score their first points of the game, a Caily Bolser three that reduced the then-deficit to 4-3.

Hall helped the team tie the game at 6-6 with a pair of steals towards the end of the period, feeding Maryann Freeman on the break before being fouled and knocking down a free throw.

Adria Hartley took the lead briefly for the hosts with a free throw but back-to-back threes from Asia Stabler and Lanee Butzin helped the Titans to a 12-7 lead after a quarter of play.

Taylor’s five-out offense was heating up but it took the Warriors grabbing a 15-14 lead on a Bolser putback to explode into life.

Alison Pemberton knocked down the first Titan three of the second quarter, followed by triples from Lanee Butzin, Ashlen Kropczynski, Mady Delgado and Lynzey Butzin to turn the deficit into a 31-19 lead.

A late Bolser basket brought the deficit down to 10 at 31-21 but the momentum was clearly in the hosts’ corner as the halftime horn sounded.

McClure said a change in defense midway through the half caught the Titans out for a little bit but added the hosts were simply knocking down the openings they were given.

“It was a situation of good offense beating okay defense,” McClure noted. “We started in a man defense, knowing they could hit threes, then moved to a 1-3-1 to disrupt their rhythm but they did a good job of driving the ball and getting to the boards.”

North Miami changed out of the 1-3-1 defense to a pressure defense near the half court line and it was there that Hall began her work.

The Warrior sophomore snagged away three of the first four Taylor offensive possessions with two of them leading to baskets as the visitors started the half with an 8-0 burst.

The Titans hit their final three of the game through Austyn Huffer and pushed the lead back out to seven on a Shaelah Ellison basket but a three from Bailey Keim started a 12-0 run with two more baskets coming directly off of Hall steals and layups.

Bolser notched a three to close the period and what had been a 10-point deficit to start the half had become a six-point North Miami lead at 44-38.

A third change in defense finally had the desired effect as McClure said the increased energy on defensive end led to increased points on the other end.

“At halftime, we drew up a little half-court trap as an adjustment from our 1-3-1,” McClure said. “We tried to get them out of their rhythm and we finally did that.

“(Hannah) had a wonderful second half and as soon as we got into the locker room after the game, she asked if we could do that more often. She made a good point because that’s a style, with the athletes we have, that was more of us and we may have to look at doing that more often.”

Bolser hit a free throw and Freeman added a shot from inside to stretch the lead to nine but six-straight points from the hosts closed the gap down to three at 47-44.

The game began to breakdown slightly as Taylor, realizing it was in dire straits, began to press full court, managing to snare a few steals and force some misplaced passes out of North Miami.

For the most part, however, the Warriors were able to navigate the pressure and get the ball to the basket in a hurry, giving Hartley and Bolser clean looks at the basket, helping the pair to 17 and 21 points on the night respectively.

The lead never dropped below seven points down the stretch as North Miami opened the season with a win, dropping Taylor to 0-4 in the process.

McClure said the team was caught out a couple of times when the Titans brought their own pressure but felt the girls were quick to make  adjustments and handled things on the offensive end very well.

“There were a couple of time where we got trapped or left a person to get trapped,” McClure pointed out. “We made adjustments during timeouts and all in all, we were able to break the pressure and get a layup when it was there.

“When it wasn’t there, we were able to pull the ball out, hold the ball and did okay at the free throw line.”

North Miami takes to the road again Tuesday against Pioneer, a team McClure said was going in the right direction despite an 0-2 start to the season.

“They have a good coach over there in Jeff Brooke,” McClure said. “Jeff was on the coaching staff at Rossville with my son Brady when they played in the state title game so he’s used to success.

“It’s a matter of time before Pioneer finds success as well. We need to play four quarters as we made a lot of little mistakes in the first half that hurt us.

“Hopefully we can build off the second half here tonight and get another win Tuesday.”

Friday night also marked the 300th win for McClure, who has been a staple of basketball in the Three Rivers Conference since first taking up the reigns as coach of the Northfield boys’ basketball program in the 1980’s and later at Southwood in the same capacity before stepping down in 2007.

McClure took up the reigns of the North Miami girls’ basketball team last season, with Friday’s win moving his career coaching mark to 300-175.

While acknowledging the milestone, McClure said it was the interactions on-and-off the court that made the game truly special.

“It means you’re getting old or are old for one thing,” a smiling McClure said when asked about his 300th win. “Milestones are nice but more important than the number is if how we’ve done that has been good.

“I’ve been blessed with some really great people to work with and great schools to work at. I’ve also met some wonderful people along the way, like (Taylor head coach Tony) Oliver, who’s a first-class person.

“It’s fun to be in a situation where you get to do this and that’s more important,” McClure added. “The numbers are important but I believe the biggest win is already on the Cross, something I want to claim over any wins in sports.

“This is nice but in the end, the people you work with is the biggest thing and I hope that I’ve been of service to them and my Lord in this endeavor.”

At Taylor

North Miami 7 14 23 16 — 60

Taylor 12 1 9 7 12 — 50

Scoring

North Miami — Cy. Bolser 21, Hartley 17, Keim 7, Freeman 6, Hall 5, Cn. Bolser 4, Kranning 0, Tinney 0

Taylor — L. Butzin 11, Eliason 7, Pemberton 6, Huffer 6, Kropczynski 6, L. Butzin 6, Delgado 3, Stabler 3, McGuire 2

Next Game: North Miami (1-0) travels to Pioneer (0-2) Tuesday at 6 p.m.