LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
North Laurel played an almost perfect first quarter in Tuesday’s 90-71 win over Rockcastle County. The Jaguars sprinted to a 20-0 lead behind relentless defense.
“I don’t know the history of the basketball program, but I would say there has never been a first quarter of a basketball game played like that here. We played as good as we could possibly play,” North Laurel coach Brad Sizemore said.
Rockcastle County’s first three drives resulted in blocked shots with Bryson Asher, Kyle Jeffers, and Peyton Broughton all shutting down the back side of the defense. Asher would block six shots on the night to go along with 18 points and 12 rebounds. The Jaguars blocked nine shots as a team.
“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell Bryson and Kyle. They are tall, but they play with their hands down half of the time. We’re trying to get them to wall up and they are starting to do that, so they’ve got a chance to block a lot of shots,” Sizemore said.
There would be another show in the second quarter, but this one was not put on by the Jaguars. The Rockets scored 29 points in the second quarter.
“We just hit a wall and got physically tired. We were really tired yesterday in practice just from the weekend,” Sizemore said.
The Jaguars led 22-0 on a put back by Jeffers before Sam Pensol broke the ice for Rockcastle County with a three-pointer. It would be the start of a big quarter for Pensol and the Rockets. Pensol scored 19 points and had his team within seven points at 34-27.
“We probably had about as bad a second quarter as we have had since I’ve been here. We let one kid get 19 points,” Sizemore said. “That one kid went wild. He hit a couple of threes and he got to the rim whenever he wanted.”
Sizemore said fatigue caught up with his team in the second quarter. Tough games over the weekend with Clay County and Perry Central had left the Jaguars with dead legs in practice. They finally hit the wall in the first quarter.
“Our defense got us out to the lead and then we couldn’t sprint. We couldn’t press in the second quarter. It was like we were jogging up and down the floor. They got a lot of easy buckets,” Sizemore said.
A driving layup by Elijah Jervis and a pair of free throws by Jaythus Riley had the Jaguars back on top 38-27 with 3.5 seconds in the half. That was enough time for Pensol to draw a foul with .8 seconds and make two free throws.
“The second half was great. I challenged them at halftime and they responded,” Sizemore said.
A three-pointer by Pensol early in the third quarter had the Rockets as close as they would get at 40-34. With the defense geared toward stopping the Rockets hot hand, he would score just seven points the rest of the game.
“Second half we went box and one and tried to keep it out of his hands. He still ended up with 29,” Sizemore said.
After the lead fell to six points, Asher scored on a strong offensive rebound. Then Broughton took a rebound end to end for a layup. A three-pointer by Jervis made it a 47-34 lead. Jervis made three three-pointers in two and a half minutes as the lead expanded to 22 points.
Jervis was one of four players in double figures with 17 points. Freshmen Broughton and Asher were the leading scorers with 26 and 18 points.
“(Asher’s) got a lot of ability and like I’ve been telling everybody for the last two weeks. He’s a young kid and this is his first time starting. He’s just a freshman. Everybody forgets those kids are just freshmen,” Sizemore said.
North Laurel will open play Saturday in the Legacy Nissan Shootout. The Jaguars will play one of Tennessee’s top rated teams in Pickett County at 7:15 p.m.
North Laurel 90, Rockcastle County 71
Rockcastle County 0 29 20 22-71
North Laurel 20 18 28 24—90
ROCKCASTLE COUNTY (71)—Mason 8, Hasty 9, Pensol 29, Harper 2, Reynolds 10, Mullins 3, Noble 2, Gentry 8.
NORTH LAUREL (90)—Broughton 26, Miller 1, Jervis 17, Thompson 13, Asher 18, Jeffers 5, Henson 5, Riley 2, Maggard 3.
Records – Rockcastle County 2-5, North Laurel 4-3.