By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
BARBOURVILLE—Confidence is one of the keys to success. So far this season, the North Laurel Lady Jaguars have been lacking in that category, as evident with their 2-11 record coming into Monday night’s game at Knox Central.
Coach Eddie Mahan hopes that the 48-33 win over the Lady Panthers, along with some of the close losses recently, will give his team the confidence they need over the remainder of the season
“I wasn’t prepared for this coming into the season,” Mahan said. “I thought we would be more confident. But I think this game, and the other ones we’ve had recently, will make us a better team.”
Mahan was not only happy to win the game, he was also happy that his team continue to build on its lead throughout.
“That was a key tonight, our focus,” Mahan said. “This was one of the most confident games we have played. We never looked like we doubted ourselves.”
North Laurel led 9-3 after the first quarter thanks to two threes from Ashton Bridges and Kayla Bruner, and three free throws by Hannah Gray. The Lady Jaguars would hit seven threes in the win.
Knox Central opened the second quarter with a 7-0 run to take a 10-9 lead before Madison Sheppard drained a three to once again put her team on top, 12-10. Sheppard also had two steals that resulted in four points during a stretch of just a little over a minute.
“Madison is going to be a very special player,” Mahan said of his eighth-grader. “I’m looking forward to coaching her for the next four years.”
A Hannah Lawson three sparked a 14-0 run to end the first half and give North a 26-12 half-time advantage. Gray capped off the run with a three of her own.
The start of the third quarter belonged to Kayla Bruner, who led North with 16 points. She scored the first six Lady Jaguar points and with 5:10 left her team was up 32-16. Even though she led North in scoring, Mahan felt like it wasn’t one of her best games, along with Lawson, who finished with five.
“I felt like Bruner and Lawson didn’t have their best game,” Mahan said. “That’s why this game was a full team effort.”
A three from Bruner gave North a 40-24 lead going into the fourth quarter.
North built a 20-point lead (48-28) with 2:56 left in the game before Knox Central ended with a 5-0 run to make the final 48-33.
“I’m real proud of the way we played tonight,” Mahan said. “We have a tough game with Corbin (Tuesday night) but we need games like that to take us to the next level. We are playing to be the best team we can be come tournament time.”
North Laurel will host Jackson County Friday night in a girl-boy doubleheader, then travel to Oneida Baptist on Saturday.
North Laurel 48, Knox Central 33
North Laurel 9 17 14 8—48
Knox Central 3 9 12 9—33
NORTH LAUREL (48)—Bridges 3, Bruner 16, Gray 11, Sheppard 7, Lawson 5, Sexton 4, Allen 2.
KNOX CENTRAL (33)—McCombs 12, McNeil 8, Barrett 3, Pennington 2, Patterson 2, Hale 1, Helton 2, Gregory 3.
Records—North Laurel 3-11, Knox Central 3-13