By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
JAMESTOWN—It was over fast. North Laurel turned the ball over 15 times in the first quarter and scored just two points. They started the second quarter in a 19-point hole and then lost Kendall Ellington to an injury. The injury did not appear to be serious.
“More of the same,” North Laurel coach Eddie Mahan said. “Another day of bad basketball out there. We’re beating ourselves before anybody else has a chance to.”
The Lady Jaguars managed just nine points in the first half and trailed 40-9. Even when they held the Lakers to six points in the third quarter it didn’t matter. North Laurel scored just one point and fell behind further.
“It doesn’t matter if people press. It doesn’t matter if they play man to man or zone, we beat ourselves with just throwing the ball away and not playing confident,” Mahan said. “Right now the only good thing you can say is we’re getting young kids some experience. That’s the only silver lining of where we are.”
Ashton Bridges led North Laurel with eight points off the bench. Bridges made two of the four three-pointers she attempted.
“Ashton is going to be a heck of a player. Right now as an eighth grader, I’m looking forward to 4 1⁄2 years with her. She is one of those players you look at and say she might have a chance to play on the next level,” Mahan said.
Another positive for the Lady Jaguars was a 26-21 advantage in rebounding led by Makayla Sexton with eight.
“Sexton does a great job of clearing out space and she boxes out about as good as anybody I have seen in our region,” Mahan said. “She’s getting better offensively for us too.”
The Lady Jaguars will play one more time before Christmas with a trip to Knoxville Catholic Saturday. Mahan describes them as a smart team that plays under control. They do not press much, but will probably press the Lady Jaguars.
“They don’t press all the time, but I assume we will probably see a press if there are any emails exchanged whatsoever,” Mahan said.
After the Knoxville Catholic game, the Lady Jaguars will have several days to focus on improving in practice. The Lady Jaguars will host Barbourville Jan. 4. The Lady Tigers (9-1) currently have the second best record in the region, behind only unbeaten Harlan County. Barbourville’s only loss was to Corbin. After Christmas Break, Mahan hopes what happened in the first semester will be forgotten.
“It’s gone. It’s done,” Mahan said.
North Laurel will return to practice Dec. 27. Mahan says his team will practice for hours each day until they meet Barbourville.
“I look forward tremendously to that,” Mahan said. “We will come through the break a better team than what we are right now.”
Russell County 55, North Laurel 2
North Laurel 2 7 1 16—26
Russell County 21 20 6 8—55
NORTH LAUREL (26)—Wyatt 2, Lawson 6, Sexton 3, Chestnut 4, Smith 3, Bridges 8.
RUSSELL COUNTY (55)—Loy 8, Cooper 2, Regan Helm 5, Grider 21, Raven Helm 3, Hadley 2, Coffey 9, McFall 5.