LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
North Laurel turned it on in the fourth quarter to pull away from Pineville for a 65-51 win Friday. It is the first of what coach Eddie Mahan hopes will be five wins to close out the regular season.
“I told our girls we had five games left and I wanted to treat it like it was a five-game tournament to the end. I didn’t quite see that kind of mentality,” Mahan said.
The “win or go home” mentality did show in the fourth quarter and in spots throughout the game.
There were 11 lead changes in the first three quarters before the Lady Jaguars took the lead for good on a three-pointer by Madison Sheppard. It was a set play with Sheppard setting a pick and then rolling to the top of the key.
“I’ve got to do a better job of finding situations to get her open and knock down a three. She is a very good shooter,” Mahan said.
Sheppard scored seven straight points with the next two on a layup when Ashley Raines tipped a rebound to her. A driving layup by Sheppard gave the Lady Jaguars a 41-36 lead. They would lead 43-38 going into the fourth quarter. Pineville cut it to 43-40 before North Laurel took over.
“Overall I thought the difference in the ballgame was us being able to sub in and out. While we got tired at times, I thought we were able to wear them down,” Mahan said.
Hannah Gray made back-to-back three-pointers for six of her team-high 15 points. After a three-pointer by Pineville’s Emily Mullins, North Laurel scored nine straight to push the lead to 15 points. The first six points of the run all came from offensive or defensive rebounds. North Laurel dominated the backboards in the fourth quarter.
“I wish that had come out at the beginning of the game because that was the pregame speech, that was the halftime speech, apparently it finally clicked in the fourth quarter,” Mahan said.
Mahan had a theory on why the rebounding was spotty early against an undersized Pineville team.
“For some reason when we see big posts we are a little more locked in and seem to rebound better. When we see a team of guards, that when we kind of let up and don’t have that mental focus,” Mahan said.
Despite being outrebounded early the Lady Jaguars did jump out to a 16-9 lead. North Laurel went the first 4 1⁄2 minutes of the second quarter without a field goal as Pineville rallied to take the lead. During that stretch the Lady Jaguars missed five straight three-pointers.
“That’s what we kind of live with. We’ve got a lot of good shooters and I hate to pull the reigns in too much because this team is not confident enough to handle me pulling the reigns in,” Mahan said.
Gray led four players in double figures for North Laurel. Kayla Bruner scored 14 points and Hannah Lawson 12. Sheppard finished with 11 points.
“I didn’t see the energy or the focus that I wanted from an entire team effort. I saw it from individual players at times,” Mahan said.
Mahan does see his team wearing down some, but there are no breaks in sight. Oneida Baptist was scheduled for Saturday.
“If we have a game against OBI we will get tested. If there is one thing they do well, they get up and down the floor,” Mahan said.
This week begins with a home game tonight against Williamsburg, followed by road games at Middlesboro and Lynn Camp.
North Laurel 65, Pineville 51
Pineville 11 16 11 13—51
North Laurel 16 9 18 22—65
PINEVILLE (51)—Barnes 4, Gambrell 4, Mullins 13, J. Enix 5, D. Enix 25.
NORTH LAUREL (65)—Sheppard 11, Chestnut 4, Gray 15, Bruner 14, Lawson 12, Raines 1, Bridges 2, Sexton 6.