By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
North Laurel’s Eddie Mahan didn’t have to do a lot of coaching Saturday. That was the plan going into the season finale against Oneida Baptist.
“I just put the ball in the players’ court tonight and honestly did the least amount of coaching I may have done all year. Maybe I should have done that earlier. I just got out of their way and wanted them to compete as much as possible, learn to talk, and make adjustments on their own,” Mahan said.
The player/coaches didn’t do half bad in the opinion of the real coach. An overpowering second half carried the Lady Jaguars to the 70-35 win.
“It was one of those things we didn’t play to the best of our ability in the first half. We weren’t focused,” Mahan said. “I think we were overlooking the opponent and just had a lackluster effort and energy about us. The second half was more like us.”
Even though the Lady Jaguars jumped ahead 15-2 in the first quarter, Mahan wasn’t pleased with the poor shooting and uninspired rebounding. Six North Laurel turnovers in the second quarter allowed the Lady Mountaineers to make a game of it. Oneida Baptist’s Madison Kehler scored 10 points in the quarter. Her three-point play with 25.5 seconds trimmed the lead to six points.
That’s when the real coach stepped in for a little motivation.
“Part of that was we had to set some goals for our team. Our team needs to get more naturally competitive. They do better when we set goals,” Mahan said.
The Lady Jaguars reached their second half goals, which involved rebounding and being aggressive on offense. North Laurel held a 25-12 rebounding advantage in the second half. Better shooting led to 46 second half points.
“The thing for us is the mentality, our focus level. (We have) it every day in practice,” Mahan said.
North Laurel opened the second half with a 16-2 run as the lead ballooned to 22 points. Whoever Mahan put in contributed. Ten players scored for North Laurel with three in double figures. Hannah Lawson scored 14 points. Seniors Ashley Wyatt and Kendall Ellington were also in double figures with 12 and 10 points. The third senior, Brooke Carpenter, just missed with nine points in her final home game. The 70 points scored Saturday marked a season high for North Laurel.
Mahan said the gaudy offensive numbers mean something even if they came against OBI, especially with the number of young players in the lineup.
“I don’t care who it is against, just that mentality of being able to go into a varsity game, handle your nerves and be able to score,” Mahan said.
North Laurel 70, OBI 35
Oneida Baptist 2 14 8 11—35
North Laurel 15 9 22 24—70
ONEIDA BAPTIST (35)—Kehler 19, Obike 12, Ibe 2, Nichols 2.
NORTH LAUREL (70)—Wyatt 12, Chestnut 2, Gray 7, Smith 4, Lawson 14, Raines 2, Bridges 6, Carpenter 9, Ellington 10, Sexton 4.