By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
With the season winding down, North Laurel and Pulaski County both needed a win. The Jaguars had lost three straight and were coming off a one-side loss to East Jessamine. Pulaski County had dropped four of five with consecutive double-figure losses.
It looked like North Laurel had the win until Peyton Gover dropped in a three-pointer to send the game to overtime. There the Maroons pulled out the 74-72 win.
“I thought we passed up a couple of good looks before. It really got to the point that we were needing to shoot the ball. It was a step-back three and he’s been shooting the ball pretty well,” Pulaski County coach Alan Gover said.
North Laurel had rallied from 10-points down in the third quarter to take a 68-65 lead on a pair of Chris Miller free throws with 12 seconds. A North Laurel team that had been snake bitten at the free throw line all season made 15 straight in the fourth quarter and overtime.
“One thing is we kind of responded and played a little bit better in the second half. That is encouraging,” North Laurel coach Brad Sizemore said.
With the Jaguars struggling to score early, Pulaski County jumped ahead 14-6 with 2:36 in the first quarter. The Maroons were finding scoring opportunities off North Laurel misses and turnovers.
“I thought we played with confidence,” Gover said. “We changed our defense up a little bit. We’ve been working on a couple of different wrinkles on defense.”
It was Miller with six points in less than two minutes that led a North Laurel rally. A Miller three-pointer with 53 seconds tied the score 16-16. The Maroons would take a 21-16 lead into the second quarter.
North Laurel scored the first six points of the second quarter to take its first lead. A pair of Weston Griebel free throws gave the Jaguars a 22-21 advantage. But over the final six minutes of the half, North Laurel managed just three field goals, a pair of three-pointers by Elijah Jervis and a putback by Austin Thompson. Pulaski County led 39-32 going into the half.
Sean Ross scored Pulaski County’s first eight points of the third quarter. When Taylor Hurt dropped in a three-pointer with 3:07 the lead peaked at 52-42.
Jervis answered with a three-pointer for North Laurel and scored six points in the closing minutes of the third quarter to cut the lead to 55-53.
“We got in a situation where they kind of played zone the entire time and he came up and made some really big shots,” Sizemore said.
Peyton Broughton tied the score for North Laurel on an offensive rebound to open the fourth quarter. The Jaguars missed a few chances to take the lead before going ahead 60-58 on two Miller free throws. After a Pulaski County miss, Miller made two more foul shots for a 62-58 lead.
“Chris got to the line a few times and was able to put them in there,” Sizemore said.
Although North Laurel made its last 10 free throws of the fourth quarter, Pulaski County always had an answer at the other end. They took the lead down to 62-61 on a Gover three-pointer with 54 seconds. More North Laurel free throws were countered by Riley Hall pull up from the baseline and a Ross drive.
“They work really hard and we’ve got a lot of kids that want to win. It’s not like they don’t want to win,” Sizemore said.
Their chances for a win looked good when two Miller free throws made it a 68-65 game with 12 seconds. Time was ticking away when Gover stepped back and fired it from in front of the Pulaski County bench.
“It was a big shot. He’s hit a couple or three of those this season,” Gover said.
Pulaski County never trailed in overtime. North Laurel tied the score twice on Miller free throws.
“We hadn’t looked at them in depth to know who was shooting the ball well. I just know we fouled (Miller). After he hit four or five in a row, I said don’t foul him,” Gover said.
With 33 seconds, Hagan Elmore broke the tie with a layup off a Burton assist. A Jervis three-pointer with 2.3 second bounced off the rim and North Laurel fouled immediately. The Maroons missed the free throw, but a desperation heave by the Jaguars missed as well.
“We played with some confidence and hit some shots we needed to hit,” Gover said.
Pulaski County 74, North Laurel 72
Pulaski County 21 18 16 13 6—74
North Laurel 16 16 21 15 4—72
PULASKI COUNTY (74)—Burton 8, Ross 14, Gover 17, Clark 2, Hall 8, Ridner 2, Stovers 2, Hurt 6, Phelps 5, Elmore 10.
NORTH LAUREL (72)—Broughton 18, Miller 17, Jervis 13, Thompson 8, Jeffers 8, Asher 2, Griebel 6.