By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
PINEVILLE—Pineville used its quickness to attack North Laurel on offense and defense and roll to a 57-36 win over the Lady Jaguars Tuesday.
“We made them look a lot faster than they may have been,” North Laurel coach Eddie Mahan said. “They have some talent. They have some quickness. They spread the floor and do some things very well out of that, but it was nothing we haven’t already seen this year.”
Things began to fall apart for North Laurel at the end of the first quarter. Ashley Raines’ three-pointer had the Lady Jaguars within 11-7. North Laurel wouldn’t score again for over four minutes and trailed 20-7 before Kendall Ellington connected from the baseline. For the first 12 minutes, the only offense for North Laurel had been a pair of three-pointers and a free throw. North Laurel did stay even the final four minutes of the half, but could not cut into the 13-point hole.
“A lot of it was our turnovers. We had 13 in the first half which is typical right now, but a lot of them are unforced turnovers. When we did have an opportunity we didn’t attack the basket,” Mahan said.
Pineville turned the ball over just nine times on the night. The Lady Jaguars’ 25 turnovers were near their average. It would be like giving Pineville 16 possessions more than North Laurel.
Chances to cut into the lead at the foul line to open the second half were missed. North Laurel missed four straight foul shots in the opening minute of the third quarter. It wouldn’t be their worst streak of the night. They missed six straight in the fourth quarter, including twice missing the front end of a bonus situation. North Laurel finished 5-of-18 from the foul line.
With another four-minute dry spell to start the third quarter, the Lady Jaguars were looking at a 23-point hole when Ashley Wyatt scored inside. Hannah Gray followed with a three-pointer and Ellington with a pair of free throws. The Lady Jaguars gained some momentum there and were within 42-27 on another Gray three-pointer to close the third quarter. Ellington scored on a put back to open the fourth quarter. The Lady Jaguars were as close as they would get at 42-29.
Mahan said he knew completing the rally would be tough when Hannah Lawson fouled out.
“Not because she is a big- time scorer but she is our main ball handler and our best on-ball defender,” Mahan said.
Although this did look like a more winnable game than the trips to Madison Centrals and Bell County, it might have been a trap as well. While the Lady Lions haven’t had a winning season since 2008-2009, they are off to a 4-3 start. Two of those losses are to Harlan County and Barbourville, both unbeaten teams. Overall a young team, the Lady Lions do have an experienced senior in Annalee Adams that averages 11 points per game and shoots over 50 percent from the three-point line. Junior Devin Nix leads the team in scoring at 13.5 points per game and in rebounds at 7.3. Mahan said one of his players told him they overlooked the Lady Lions.
“Right now we are missing something as team, whether it is confidence or just being able to show up and being able to play. It’s all in our heads right now,” Mahan said. “The frustrating part for me as a coach is if this is as good as we could get I would be O.K., but sometimes seeing what we can do is the frustrating part.”
Pineville 57, North Laurel 36
North Laurel 7 7 13 9—36
Pineville 14 13 15 15—57
NORTH LAUREL (36)—Wyatt 5, Gray 6, Lawson 2, Carpenter 6, Ellington 11, Sexton 2, Raines 3, Chestnut 1.
PINEVILLE (57)—Enix 13, Adams 22, Barnes 2, Sutton 2, Washington 6, Gambrell 8, Short 1, Mullins 3.