LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
BEREA—North Laurel was six seconds away from its first win. That’s when Berea’s Jordan Sandefur scored on an offensive rebound for a 45-44 win. Kayla Bruner pushed the ball down court to try for a game-winner. The defense converged on her in the lane and in a final scramble there would be no shot and no foul.
“I do think they put forth the effort in the third and fourth quarters to win a ballgame. That’s a plus,” North Laurel coach Eddie Mahan said.
Now he hopes the close call was enough to build momentum with games coming up against Clay County, Whitley County, and Harlan in the next week.
“I hope so. Right now with our youth I don’t know what helps us and hurts us all the time,” Mahan said
The Lady Jaguars trailed by four points early in the fourth quarter. Three pointers by Hannah Gray and Madison Shepherd gave North Laurel a 42-40 lead. Bruner then stepped in front of a Berea pass and hit Shepherd with an assist for a 44-40 lead. Shepherd, an eighth grader, finished with seven points in her second varsity game.
“I expect a lot of that from her. She’s really developing into a heck of a player,” Mahan said.
Berea cut the lead back to one point with 1:08 to play. North Laurel was able to run the clock down to 19.9 seconds with the Lady Pirates forced to foul four times to put the Lady Jaguars in the bonus. They sent Shepherd to the line, but the shot bounced off the rim.
“I would love to have seen her finish on those free throws. It would have been a confidence builder. She’s a very good free throw shooter,” Mahan said.
North Laurel didn’t trail in the first quarter and led by as much as five points. Ashley Raines played a key role in the quick start. Raines scored on two put backs in the first quarter and would lead North Laurel with 11 points on the night.
“(Raines) has been giving us a lot of good minutes. The first two games especially I thought her defense was about as good as anybody on the floor,” Mahan said.
A baseline drive by Hannah Lawson gave the Lady Jaguars a 10-5 lead. Berea would cut the lead to 12-11 by the end of the quarter. The Lady Pirates took their first lead with 6:27 in the second quarter on a three-pointer by Jordan Sandufur. She then scored on a baseline drive for a 19-14 Berea lead. They would lead by as much as six points before settling on a 27-22 halftime lead.
It would be a different North Laurel team that came out to start the second half. Mahan said it wasn’t because of strategy.
“It’s not about schemes or Xs and Os right now. It’s about getting a young team to play hard,” Mahan said.
North Laurel started the second half with an 11-2 run. A driving layup by Lawson gave North Laurel a 33-29 lead. Just as quickly they would go cold again with Berea scoring the next nine points.
“We made our comeback. We were right there ready to win a ballgame it’s just the ball didn’t bounce our direction at the end of the game. That’s what happens we you don’t play like you’re supposed to for a full game,” Mahan said.
Berea 45, North Laurel 44
North Laurel 12 10 14 8—44
Berea 11 16 11 7—45
NORTH LAUREL (44)—Bruner 7, Gray 7, Lawson 9, Bridges 2, Raines 11, Chestnut 1, Shepherd 7.
BEREA (45)—Sandefur 13, Fain 11, Coyle 3, Sexton 13, Morgan 1, Montgomery 4.