By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
ONEIDA—Led by a career-high 17 points from eighth grader Madison Sheppard, North Laurel handled Oneida Baptist 58-38 Saturday.
“It was a game that saw her score in transition, off of penetration in the half court and finish in traffic to go along with her typical three-point shooting. She also had seven rebounds. She is really coming on strong and getting better and better every day,” Mahan said.
It was a good time for Sheppard to have a career high. The Lady Jaguars leading scorer, Kayla Bruner, was held to eight points and Hannah Lawson just three.
“OBI did a very good jump of frustrating my starters. They threw some junk defenses and really concentrated on keeping Hannah Lawson and Kayla Bruner under control early. No matter what adjustments I made we continued to look for those two and not take the open shots that they were giving the rest of the players,” Mahan said.
The success of the Lady Mountaineers defense led to lineup changes for North Laurel. The moves paid off.
“The push was made when I subbed Kelsey Chestnut and Madison Sheppard in and took Kayla Bruner out. The whole mind set changed and we were able to make our push and open up a 13-point lead,” Mahan said.
Mahan also thought there may have been another reason his team didn’t get off to a great start.
“It was no doubt an ugly game and one we mentally did not go into prepared for. I think watching our JV win 44-7 made us relax way too much. I hope we learn from this that we have to be ready for everyone and that when called upon our subs can deliver,” Mahan said.
Oneida Baptist did put together a rally late in the second quarter to cut the lead to nine at the half. A big reason was sophomore guard Madison Kehler, who led all scorers with 32 points. She averages 24 points per game.
“We played zone a lot and whenever we tried to face guard or man up on her she was able to draw a foul. She had 18 free throws herself and much of her other points came from our turnovers and her pushing in transition. I like what Kehler does and why it does bother me that she was able to get that type of scoring against us when you evaluate how then it’s much more understandable,” Mahan said.
North Laurel was able to stretch the lead back to double figures in the third quarter and cruised to the 20-point win.
“We were more of ourselves in the third quarter and we made a run to push the lead back to 15 at the end of the quarter,” Mahan said.
North Laurel has won four of its last eight games with the four losses all close ones aside from a bad second half against Corbin.
“We are getting better. I also like how we are looking for ways of winning not expecting to lose and freezing up. We have a long way to go for where I want to be but we are on the right path and improving daily,” Mahan said.
Thursday’s scheduled game with Estill County was moved to Tuesday. Mahan expected a tough challenge in the Lady Engineers and high-scoring junior guard Kennedy Flynn.
“I believe she is second in the state in scoring and at one point was 17th in the country. She is a heck of a little guard,” Mahan said. “Estill’s record doesn’t reflect how dangerous they are. After that we have a good stretch of competitive teams all who have good guard play. We will have to be better at stopping penetration, but those are the challenges we need.”
North Laurel 58, Oneida Baptist 38
North Laurel 14 12 14 18—58
Oneida Baptist 6 11 8 13—38
NORTH LAUREL (58)—Chestnut 7, Gray 12, Sheppard 17, Bruner 8, Allen 5, Lawson 3, Sexton 4, Brummett 2.
ONEIDA BAPTIST (38)—Kehler 32, Obike 3, Ibe 2, Booher 1.