By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
North Laurel’s last two losses have at least one thing in common. They gave up a lot of points.
“We’re just giving people wide open layups and not moving. We have to figure out here in the next week and a half how to regroup and get our energy level back up,” North Laurel coach Brad Sizemore said.
The Jaguars lost to Corbin Thursday 88-78, including 56 points in the second half by the Redhounds. This comes two days after Clay County handed North Laurel their worst defeat of the year, an 87-58 loss to the Tigers in Manchester.
Sizemore still thinks his team could be and should be a good defensive team.
“We should be when we’re moving. We’re not when we are slow. When we’re moving like we are capable of, which I thought we did late in the game. We were down 16 and came back and cut it to five just because we wanted to guard somebody,” Sizemore said.
The other common link between the two recent losses is the toll taken by a packed late-season schedule, the result of scheduled games and makeup games being crammed into the final weeks. Thursday there was the unexpected adversity of starting center Bryson Asher leaving due to illness.
“We’ve played a lot of games in a short amount of time. We have a lot of kids sick. Bryson was sick and had to leave the game throwing up, but we’re not making any excuses. Corbin played really well. They took the ball straight to the basket and made their free throws,” Sizemore said.
It had the makings of another Clay County game when Corbin jumped out to a 15-6 lead. The Redhounds had played two fewer games in the last week than North Laurel and they looked rested and ready. Sizemore called two quick time outs to slow the momentum.
“We start the game and everything is a step and a half slow. We let them shoot wide-open threes,” Sizemore said.
The Jaguars would get a spark from Jaythus Riley to close the first quarter and into the second quarter.
“Jaythus came in and did a pretty decent job on the boards,” Sizemore said.
Riley scored against the press and then scored again on a putback as North Laurel started to draw closer. The Jaguars would hold for the last shot of the quarter with a Peyton Broughton layup cutting the lead to 19-13.
North Laurel dominated the boards in the second quarter with three offensive rebounds leading to points. It was also North Laurel’s best defensive quarter with Corbin scoring just 13 points.
“When Bryson went out of the game we had to put a small lineup in. We had to go man and we guarded them a little bit better,” Sizemore said.
By halftime, they had cut the lead to 32-29. A three-pointer by Chris Miller to open the third quarter tied the score at 32-32. Corbin counter punched with a 9-0 run. After a free throw by Broughton, a Kevin Goins three-pointer pushed the lead to 44-33. North Laurel turned the ball over five times in the third quarter to help fuel the Corbin offense.
“We’re trying to throw too many over-the-top air passes. People’s hands get in the way and other team gets deflections. We’ve got to be smarter,” Sizemore said. “Against these better teams you turn it over and they are going to convert it on the other end,” Sizemore said.
Corbin would extend the lead to 64-48 in the fourth quarter. Sizemore thought his team put together another good run from there.
“When they had us down 16 and we thought we were going to get beat 25, our kids kind of responded and made an effort. If we had played like that to start the game we would have been in a little different situation,” Sizemore said. “We were slow the entire night. We’ve been slow the last two games.”
North Laurel got as close as 75-69 with 2:11 to play. Goins drilled another three-pointer to help hold off the Jaguars comeback. The Redhounds made 10-of-12 free throws in the final minute to seal the win.
“Every time we cut into the lead they took the ball to the basket and got to the foul line. We left a bunch of points at the foul line,” Sizemore said.
Corbin 88, North Laurel 78
Corbin 19 13 25 31—88
North Laurel 13 16 17 32—78
CORBIN (88)—Goins 23, Shelton 10, Waddle 4, Taylor 15, Maguet 26, Hopper 8, Hopkins 2.
NORTH LAUREL (78)—Broughton 35, Miller 8, Thompson 5, Jeffers 6, Jervis 3, Griebel 6, Hodges 5, Riley 10.