By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
WILLIAMSBURG—It wasn’t the same North Laurel team that played Whitley County to the wire Friday. This was an already shorthanded North Laurel team that was dealt an even shorter hand.
“It’s one of those opportunities that was missed, a very beatable team,” North Laurel coach Eddie Mahan said.
The Lady Jaguars lost 50-36 to a Williamsburg team that entered the game with one less win than North Laurel. North Laurel was without starter Hannah Gray due to illness. Another starter, Ashley Wyatt, went to the bench early in the second quarter with her third foul. Hannah Lawson didn’t last to the end of the game, also a victim of fouls.
“We were definitely in foul trouble. More fouls tonight than usual. It was a very uneven foul count tonight, but that’s how it is on the road. You just have to expect that and play through it,” Mahan said.
North Laurel made 7-of-10 free throws, while Williamsburg shot 17-of-25. But it wasn’t just a free throw deficit that cost the Lady Jaguars. Mahan thinks it was a matter of confidence.
“This is who we are right now. We are an emotional team that feeds off of what is going on in the ballgame. If we can score we are O.K. If we can’t score, we struggle in all areas,” Mahan said.
Although the Lady Jaguars did struggle offensively in the first quarter, they were able to take an 8-7 lead into the second quarter. North Laurel still led 10-9 before turning the ball over on six straight possessions. They fell behind by eight points and would never recover.
“We can’t fight through adversity right now and if we are going to do anything come tournament time, we have to learn to do that. That’s all district tournament and region tournament is,” Mahan said.
Williamsburg pushed the lead to 16 points in the third quarter. North Laurel never got closer than 10 from there.
Mahan doesn’t plan on playing back the tape of this game. He doesn’t even want the memory to carry over to Tuesday when the Lady Jaguars were hosting Middlesboro.
“We have a quick turnaround with senior night tomorrow night against Middlesboro, so there is no way we can hold onto this. The only thing we can do is learn about it for the next hour or two and forget about it by the time they go to sleep,” Mahan said.
Mahan is much more concerned about the 49th District Tournament, which begins next week in Jackson County. The Lady Jaguars open with the host team and need just one win to extend their season into the 13th Region Tournament.
“We’re in a district that yes Clay County is really good, but you have Jackson County who is a much improved team, but realistically we should be a team that can come out of the district,” Mahan said.
North Laurel already has two wins over Jackson County, although the second was much closer than the first. Those wins won’t matter if the Lady Jaguars can’t beat Jackson County a third time.
“You have to keep your eyes on what your goals are. We don’t play for anything really in the regular season, it not like college where you have regular season championships. It’s all about district and region. That what we have to keep focused on,” Mahan said.
Williamsburg 50, North Laurel 36
North Laurel 8 4 8 16—36
Williamsburg 7 14 15 14—50
NORTH LAUREL (36)—Wyatt 5, Lawson 6, Raines 9, Bridges 6, Ellington 8, Sexton 2.
WILLIAMSBURG (50)— Brown 3, Ash 8, Davis 11, Berry 5, Harris 3, Conlin 18.