By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
North Laurel led Southwestern for two quarters and remained tied through three Saturday in the U.S. Energy Coal Classic at North Laurel.
The fourth quarter would belong to the Lady Warriors as a 54-43 final took some of the joy out of what was probably the Lady Jaguars’ best performance.
“For three quarters definitely (the best) and that’s what makes it a heartbreaker,” North Laurel coach Eddie Mahan said. “I gave them the analogy that it was like having lottery ticket and the numbers are right to the very last one and it kind of breaks your heart at the end.”
For three quarters Mahan liked his team’s effort, aggressive offense, and tenacious defense. The fourth quarter may have come down to fatigue, but he also saw mental errors.
“They are very good offensively and if you don’t go every time hard it’s hard to match them,” Mahan said.
Southwestern had 30 points after three quarters. It would score 24 in the fourth quarter using a one-two punch of Adison Corder outside and Samantha Fitzgerald inside. Corder scored 10 of her 24 points in the fourth quarter. Corder averages 20.9 points per game.
While the Southwestern offense found its rhythm in the fourth quarter, North Laurel went without a field goal until Kendall Ellington scored on a put back with a minute to play.
“People who had been aggressive for the first three quarters kind of went away from it,” Mahan said.
North Laurel did just about everything right in the first quarter. Two quick three-pointers from Brooke Carpenter and would not trail again in the first period. The Lady Jaguars also dominated the boards early, but six turnovers kept them from expanding the lead. The first quarter ended with Hannah Lawson beating the buzzer with a runner in the lane for a 10-8 lead.
“She’s developing a few other shots she didn’t have at the beginning of the year. She’s doing a very good job shooting the runner,” Mahan said. “This is definitely going to help us in the future having a seventh grader that will have 30-plus ballgames under her belt next year of varsity starting experience.”
There would be seven ties and four lead changes by halftime with another dramatic ending. Hannah Gray pulled up for a three-pointer and a 24-21 lead. The second half started well. Ashley Wyatt nailed a three-pointer and Lawson a pair of free throws for North Laurel’s biggest lead, 29-21. Their only points the final 5:53 of the quarter came on a free throw.
“When Ashley Wyatt, Kendall Ellington, and Brooke Carpenter are scoring we can compete,” Mahan said. “When they are not aggressive and they allow seventh graders and eighth graders to have to stand up and do something, we are going to struggle.”
The drought allowed Southwestern to rally. Lawson made two free throws with 5:55 to play that tied the score 34-34. Fitzgerald scored on a rebound to give Southwestern the lead for good at 36-34.
North Laurel’s first field goal of the fourth quarter came with one minute left in the game. That made it a total of 13 minutes over two quarters without a field goal. When the field goal finally came on a put back by Ellington, the Warriors had used a 15-2 run to open a 13-point lead.
U.S. Energy Coal Classic
at North Laurel
Southwestern 54, North Laurel 43
Southwestern 8 13 9 24—54
North Laurel 10 14 6 13—43
SOUTHWESTERN (54)—Corder 24, Molden 3, Combs 5, Fitzgerald 10, Fothergill 2.
NORTH LAUREL (43)—Wyatt 13, Gray 6, Lawson 8, Carpenter 12, Ellington 4.