January 31, 2014

Gray, Bruner get hand hot for North Laurel

By Mitch Howard
Sports Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — IRVINE—North Laurel scored half of its  points on three pointers in Tuesday’s 72-64 win over Estill County. Hannah Gray and Kayla Bruner combined for 11 of the Lady Jaguars dozen three-pointers.

“We have had some very good practices and some of that has been how we have shot the ball. Unfortunately, we didn’t show that in the Jackson County game.  We did shoot that well though against Estill and it showed,” North Laurel coach Eddie Mahan said.

Gray buried six three pointers and finished with a team-high 23 points. North Laurel also got five three-pointers and 19 points from Bruner. Hannah Lawson also made one three-pointer.

“We have multiple shooters that can go off in any game.  It makes us very dangerous, but the negative is it has made us inconsistent.  We have to be able to establish ourselves off of penetration first and we did that in this game.  It was fun to see our kids shoot the ball well and enjoy playing the game on both ends of the floor,” Mahan said.

Mahan would like to see more performances like this from Gray.

“This is what we need from Hannah Gray on a daily basis. She is capable of it and we need her development to continue.  She is a tremendous shooter but her length and rebounding gives us a lot of options with our lineup,” Mahan said.

It would be easy to picture Estill County sitting in a zone defense all night and allowing the Lady Jaguars open looks from the outside. Mahan said that wasn’t the case. The Lady Engineers started out in man-to-man and then went to a box-and-one to control Bruner.

“They changed up defenses a few times including pressing much of the second half.  It’s very hard to press us right now.  We have become more confident against it and we are scoring now and not just trying to break it.  I’m sure Estill County scouted us well and that is why they didn’t zone us at the beginning,” Mahan said.

Estill County was able to stay in the game behind the scoring Kennedy Flynn. The Lady Engineers guard is one of the state’s top scorers and didn’t hurt her stats with a 36-point night.

“She is a very special player and a confident scorer.  She knows her team needs her to score 30-plus a game and she delivers,” Mahan said.

The scouting report on Flynn said she was nearly impossible to stop, especially when she goes to the foul line 30 times.

“Talking to coaches who had played them we knew many have tried to chase her and even send two players at her at all times, but haven’t been successful.  It’s rare to give up 36 points to one player and feel like you played pretty good defense, but that was the case last night.  She knows how to be aggressive and get a friendly whistle,” Mahan said.

It was a season-high third straight win for the Lady Jaguars, who will host Wayne County tonight and Russell County Saturday.

“Both are very good teams that are tough match ups but I think our team is building off of our recent wins and are learning different ways to get the job done. The most important thing off us is that continued improvement and get ready for tournament time,” Mahan said.

North Laurel 72, Estill County 64

North Laurel       19    22  16  15—72

Estill County       12    16  11  25—64

NORTH LAUREL (72)—Gray 23, Shepherd 3, Bruner 19, Lawson 5, Bridges 3, Sexton 9.

ESTILL COUNTY (64)—Flynn 36, Hall 13, Rose 7, Barnes 8.