By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
RUSSELLVILLE—It took longer than expected. Nine games into the season the North Laurel Lady Jaguars picked up their first win with a convincing 61-40 win over Middlesboro in the First Southern National Bank Classic.
“I think we’re a team that should have four or five wins by now. I blame myself for a lot of that, but with as much youth and inexperience as we have sometimes it takes a little bit more to get over the hump,” North Laurel coach Eddie Mahan said.
The win may have had the effect Mahan wanted as the Lady Jaguars followed up with a second win over Spencer County 63-57 in overtime Saturday.
“I do feel like this will lighten the load a little bit on the girls’ shoulders and hopefully the pressure will be off so we will be able to play a little bit looser,” Mahan said.
It was Hannah Lawson with the big game against Middlesboro. The North Laurel eighth grader scored 21 points.
“She was aggressive. She looked comfortable,” Mahan said.
Lawson was moved back to the point guard, where she played last season. The move may have also helped Kayla Bruner.
“(Lawson) did everything. She didn’t just score 21 points. She created for a whole lot of other people as well,” Mahan said. “She opened up the game for us.”
Bruner scored 18 points and Hannah Gray 13, which is the kind of production Mahan thinks his team needs.
“We have three people that we need scoring on a consistent basis. We need Hannah Gray, Hannah Lawson, and Kayla Bruner to each be up around the range where they are right now. The three of them have to be aggressive offensively all the time,” Mahan said.
The Lady Jaguars led by four after the first period and expanded their lead each quarter. North Laurel led by 11 at halftime and 19 after three quarters.
“We played well for four quarters. We missed some easy shots or we would have beaten them by a lot more,” Mahan said. “We didn’t shoot the ball real well, but we played well. We played good defense and rebounded pretty well too.”
North Laurel 63, Spencer County 57 (OT)
North Laurel’s second win also took longer than expected. This time because the Lady Jaguars needed overtime to outlast Spencer County.
Four players were in double figures for North Laurel, led by Kayla Bruner with 15 points.
North Laurel’s biggest obstacle was shutting down Mackenzie Myers who poured in 34 points. Myers entered the game averaging 19 points. Myers scored 14 points in the fourth quarter and made four three-pointers in the night.
North Laurel led by six going into the fourth quarter. The Lady Jaguars made all five of their free throws in overtime to hang on for the win. All of those free throws came from eighth graders Hannah Lawson and Madison Shepherd.
“If we would have played like we did (Friday) or against Harlan Independent and at other times, this is probably a tournament we should have won. We’re better than our record. We’re better than what we have shown,” Mahan said. “I’m hoping we can feed off the positive energy and become that team.”
First Southern National Bank Classic
North Laurel 61, Middlesboro 40
North Laurel 12 14 18 17—61
Middlesboro 8 7 10 15—40
NORTH LAUREL (61)—Madison Shepherd 5,Kelsey Chestnut 3, Hannah Gray 13, Kayla Bruner 18, Hannah Lawson 21, Makayla Sexton 1.
MIDDLESBORO (40)—Bailey Hensley 20, Amanda Bascardi 2, Morgan Thompson 6, Jamayha Poc 1, Hannah Warren 6, Malorie Carter 3, Lauren Spurlock 2.
Records – North Laurel 1-8, Middlesboro 3-7.
North Laurel 63, Spencer County 57
North Laurel 16 9 15 14 9—63
Spencer County 14 10 10 20 3—57
NORTH LAUREL (63)—Madison Shepherd 11, Kelsey Chestnut 2, Hannah Gray 10, Kayla Bruner 15, Hannah Lawson 13, Ashley Raines 7, Ashton Bridges 4, Makayla Sexton 1.
SPENCER COUNTY (57)—Bush 4, Howie 9, Barlow 5, Nigh 2, Downs 3, Myers 34.