By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
WILLIAMSBURG—If you watched the first half, you thought North Laurel could play with defending 13th Region champion Corbin. The second half you would have your doubts.
“The second half wore us down. As you saw the bright red faces come out and you saw us make some dumb mistakes,” North Laurel coach Eddie Mahan said.
The Lady Jaguars only trailed by 10 points at halftime before falling 86-48. The O. Wayne Rollins Center may get some credit for the second half struggles. The game was played at the University of the Cumberlands arena to give the teams a feel for the college-size court as preparation for the post season.
“I knew that would be an issue. I did think it would help us against their press and in the first half you saw that. We were able to break their press and get some layups or at least some open looks,” Mahan said.
It may have also been an advantage for a deep Corbin team that likes to push the tempo. That tempo can lead to a lot of points quickly and turn a 10-point lead into 20.
“We threw the ball away and gave them some layups. We didn’t rebound in certain situations. That was the difference in the ballgame. It doesn’t take much against Corbin for them to make a run,” Mahan said. “They are like sharks in the water. If you show a little bit of weakness they can run a six, eight, 10, 12-point run on you.”
The Lady Redhounds opened a double figure lead in the first quarter with outside shooting and transition baskets. When Corbin opened a 21-8 lead, North Laurel started to rally with Hannah Lawson getting to the goal.
“When Lawson stepped up they had to go zone. They couldn’t guard us in that situation,” Mahan said.
When Kayla Bruner opened the second quarter with a three-pointer, the Lady Jaguars were within 22-16. With Corbin leading 24-18, they went on one of their patented runs. Nine straight points pushed the lead back to 33-18. North Laurel countered with three-pointers from Madison Shepherd, Hannah Gray, and Bruner that had them back to within 36-27. They would trail 38-28 at the half.
“I thought we were able to establish our own style of pace especially in the second quarter,” Mahan said.
The Lady Redhounds established their pace to open the second half. They also held North Laurel to one field goal in the first five minutes. When Ashley Raines scored the Lady Jaguars second field goal on an offensive rebound, the hole was now 24 points.
“The second half was not who we are. The first half was more who we are,” Mahan said.
With Corbin able to rotate fresh players in off the bench, the Lady Jaguars didn’t have enough gas in the tank for another rally.
“I respect what they have. I love what they have. I think they have one of the most dangerous teams,” Mahan said. “If their style of play wins out, you’re hurting.”
North Laurel will host Jackson County tonight in a doubleheader and travel to Oneida Baptist Saturday.
Corbin 86, North Laurel 48
Corbin 22 16 27 21-86
North Laurel 13 15 12 8—48
CORBIN (86)—Blackburn 2, Jewell 6, B. Ashurst 11, Logan 2, Melanie Wilson 5, Miranda Wilson 11, Sarah Ashley 16, Gulley 2, K. Wilson 21, Baker 4, Gallagher 6.
NORTH LAUREL (48)—Shepherd 6, Gray 3, Bruner 16, Lawson 13, Raines 8, Sexton 2.