By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
For a team that hangs its hopes on defense, allowing a season-high in points in a 74-42 loss to Whitley County Monday didn’t sit well.
“There are some things I saw that I would love to improve off of but I am so upset about our lack of defense and rebounding. Something that I have tried to preach to be our foundation,” North Laurel coach Eddie Mahan said. “It almost takes away from the shining moments on offense and being able to break the press.”
The Lady Jaguars forced only five Whitley County turnovers and seemed outmatched from the opening tip by one of the 13th Regions top teams. The Lady Colonels were led by seniors Brandi Smith with 20 points and Mariah Johnson with 17 points. There are no seniors on a North Laurel team that features just one junior. But youth did not explain why Mahan thought his team had no energy from the beginning.
“I think most of our fatigue comes from mental fatigue,” Mahan said. “People used to play three, four, five hours at a time and not look as tired as we did at the beginning of this game.”
The Lady Colonels scored the game’s first seven points, all coming on inbounds plays. Midway through the first quarter the lead was eight. Even when Kayla Bruner got on a roll with seven quick points, Whitley County expanded on the lead behind the three-point shooting of Smith and Taylor Dingess.
“I wanted to sag off a little bit and contain more because they are a great penetrate and kick team. They are old fashioned spread the floor and penetrate, draw the defense and kick time after time,” Mahan said.
The Lady Colonels led 23-13 after one quarter, but North Laurel would start the second quarter well. A three-pointer by Hannah Lawson had the Lady Jaguars within 27-20 with 5:34 in the half. The lead would be back to 16 points before North Laurel scored again.
“We make a pretty good run and then they make a killer run and we quit. That seems to be a whole lot of what we are doing right now,” Mahan said.
Whitley County led 42-28 at halftime and pushed the lead to 24 points in the third quarter. The Lady Jaguars scored just 13 points in the second half, while the Lady Colonels offense was so efficient it looked like they were running practice drills.
“I thought this would be my best defensive team, that’s disappointing,” Mahan said. “We never had any energy on that side of the ball. We looked fatigued from minute one.”
The Lady Jaguars were allowing 60 points per game going into Monday’s game with Whitley County. The Lady Colonels are one of the highest scoring teams in the 13th Region with over 70 points in five of their seven games.
It wasn’t any better on offense for North Laurel where they managed just one free throw in the first seven minutes of the fourth quarter.
“If this was bad, we have a long bus trip tomorrow to go to Harlan,” Mahan said.
Whitley County 74, North Laurel 42
Whitley County 23 19 18 14—74
North Laurel 13 16 7 6—42
WHITLEY COUNTY (74)—Craig 9, Johnson 17, Dingess 9, Smith 21, Jones 4, Sizemore 4, Estes 4, Hickey 4, Elliott 2.
NORTH LAUREL (42)—Shepherd 3, Gray 2, Bruner 10, Allen 3, Lawson 13, Hamm 2, Raines 2, Bridges 7.