LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
BEREA—It looked like it could be the same story until North Laurel wrote a different ending. The Jaguars led Madison Southern the entire game Tuesday before falling behind in the fourth quarter. It was a replay of what happened in the season opener against Harlan, their only loss.
“Against Harlan we didn’t make the plays we needed to. We kind of grew up tonight,” North Laurel coach Brad Sizemore said.
North Laurel led by as much as 12 in the first half, but trailed by five with 3:43 to play. They would recover for a 78-71 win with Chris Miller scoring nine points during the rally. He scored 12 points of his 16 points in the fourth quarter.
“We were down by five and we could have very easily lost by 10. We had guys step up and hit some threes, take the ball inside, and hit some free throws. It’s a great win,” Sizemore said.
Peyton Broughton led North Laurel with 29 points and started the comeback with a layup on an inbounds play. After a baseline fade by the Eagles’ Griffin Gabbard, Miller sank his second three-pointer of the quarter. Tanner Kidwell answered with a driving layup for two of his team-high 20 points. It would be the last points of the game for Kidwell, who scored 18 in the second half.
“He’s a nice player. I’ve seen him in the past. He’s played a lot of AAU. We just couldn’t get him stopped,” Sizemore said. “A lot of them were in the second half. He just kind of took the game over getting to the rim.”
Madison Southern packed its defense into the lane, which left open looks for the North Laurel shooters. With 2:20 to play, Kyle Jeffers made a three-pointer to trim the lead to one point.
“He passed it up one time and we were yelling to him from the bench to shoot it. Maybe this will give him some confidence,” Sizemore said.
After a missed shot by the Eagles, Miller gave North Laurel the lead with a driving layup. Then a turnover led to two free throws for Miller.
Stacey Burns rolled off a screen for an open three-pointer to tie the game 70-70 with 1:10 to play. Broughton gave the Jaguars the lead for good with a pair of free throws with 1:02 to play. After the Eagles missed two free throws, a three-point play by Broughton made it a 75-70 lead. The Jaguars made three of their final four free throw attempts to seal the win.
“I was really pleased with the way we made free throws down the stretch. We missed some in the first half, but we hit some big ones with the game on the line,” Sizemore said.
Although Madison Southern came into the game without a win, Sizemore got what he expected. The Eagles had lost to two quality teams in Madison Central and Pulaski County.
“I told the kids in the locker room before the game that I knew this bunch is competitive every year and they have good teams. They are kind of like us, they don’t like to lose,” Sizemore said. “I knew it was going to be a dogfight and that’s what I told them.”
North Laurel jumped ahead 9-2 with both teams playing sound defense in the first quarter. The only field goal by either team in the final 3:20 of the quarter was a three-pointer by Burns. North Laurel led 13-11 going into second quarter.
It would be almost five minutes into the second quarter before Madison Southern managed another field goal, making it a span of almost eight minutes with just one field goal.
“I thought in the first half we played really good defense. We could have easily been up 12 or 14 at the half,” Sizemore said. “We committed a few silly turnovers, didn’t finish a couple of shots on the inside, and we fouled them a lot too.”
Broughton scored the first six points of the second quarter for North Laurel. Jeffers buried a three-pointer against the Eagles zone. Bryson Asher scored on an offensive rebound for a 24-12 North Laurel lead. Again the North Laurel offense stalled with no more field goal until Austin Thompson scored on a put back with one second in the half. The Jaguars led 30-25 at halftime.
The pace would be a lot faster in the second half. The Eagles pulled within two points three times behind Kidwell slashing to the rim. North Laurel seemed comfortable at the faster pace with the Eagles never able to pull ahead.
“We’re trying to play like that. They were pressing too and trying to get out and run up and down the floor. We’re kind of small sometimes with some lineups. We’ve got to get the ball out of bounds and get in our press and try to get some transition layups,” Sizemore said.
North Laurel hopes to carry the momentum of Tuesday’s win and a three-game winning streak into tonight’s showdown with Clay County. The North Laurel girls will play at 6 p.m., followed by the boys’ game.
“We’ll take every win we can get and try to build some confidence,” Sizemore said.
North Laurel 78, Madison Southern 71
North Laurel 13 17 20 28—78
Madison Southern 11 14 21 25—71
NORTH LAUREL (78)—Broughton 29, Miller 16, Jervis 12, Thompson 6, Asher 5, Jeffers 6, Hodges 4.
MADISON SOUTHERN (71)—Burns 13, Kidwell 20, Linville 5, Jefferson 2, Huff 15, Sargent 4, Thrash 3, Gabbard 6, Miller 3.