By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
WINCHESTER—After losing to Jackson County in an intense district showdown, North Laurel had less than 24 hours to forget it. Tuesday they loaded up again for a trip to George Rogers Clark and faced one of their most physical opponents.
“I told (the players) before the game, I’ve watched them play two or three times. They are kind of young and I don’t know how well they score the ball at times, but I knew they were going to guard us as good as anybody we played all year,” North Laurel coach Brad Sizemore said.
Much like the loss to Jackson County, it was a three-minute stretch in the third quarter that did in the Jaguars. George Rogers Clark ended the third quarter with a 15-1 run to blow open a two-point game.
“We didn’t have any legs, but that’s no excuse. We’ve just got to bounce back,” Sizemore said.
The Cardinals used a physical defense and strength on the boards to open a 17-9 lead in the first quarter. Sizemore called a time out less than three minutes into the game, which led to a brief rally. With three minutes left in the half, George Rogers Clark led 29-18 with smooth passing leading to easy shots.
“Their bigs pass well to each other. They threw over the top of the press,” Sizemore said.
The Jaguars reeled off eight straight points, starting with a putback by Bryson Asher. Peyton Broughton scored the next six points to cut the lead to 29-26. A steal in the final seconds allowed the Cardinals to take a 31-26 lead into the break.
Some of North Laurel’s best possessions of the night came early in the second half. With 4:18 in the third quarter, Broughton scored on an assist from Jeffers to tie the score at 38-38.
“They played us man and we were trying to figure out who their smaller guys were. Put either Kyle or Peyton in the post and try to do some high-low stuff and Bryson too. It worked for a little bit,” Sizemore said.
With 3:02 in the third, the Jaguars were still within 42-40. They managed just one free throw the rest of the quarter.
“We let them speed us up and did some silly stuff on offense. We didn’t finish our shots on the inside sometimes and didn’t take good looks. They just forced us to do some things we didn’t want to do,” Sizemore said.
It wasn’t just the misses that hurt North Laurel, it was what happened after. Two quick missed threes were pushed the other way for layups.
“It’s a possession game against these really good teams. If we don’t get what we want, they get a quick rebound and score on the other end,” Sizemore said.
The closest the Jaguars would get in the fourth quarter would be 11 points.
It is the third time this season the Jaguars have lost back-to-back games. They have not lost three in a row. They will have a chance to get back on track with another road game Friday against Whitley County. The Colonels had won three in a row before suffering one-point losses to South Laurel and Williamsburg. Six of the Colonels eight losses have been by five points or less.
North Laurel also plays at Oneida Baptist Saturday as they work through a stretch of six straight road games. They have games at Bell County and South Laurel next week.
George Rogers Clark 72, North Laurel 57
North Laurel 8 18 15 16—57
George Rogers Clark 17 14 26 15—72
NORTH LAUREL (57)—Broughton 21, Miller 13, Thompson 9, Asher 11, Jeffers 2, Riley 1.
GEORGE ROGERS CLARK (72)—King 19, Greene 10, Caudill 3, Jones 16, Blanton 16, Sharrock 8.