LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
WILLIAMSBURG—Whitley County nearly knocked out North Laurel with a 23-2 run in the first half, then squashed a Jaguar rally for a 77-61 win.
“This is the wildest game we’ve played all year as far as just out of control. We had 23 turnovers, shot 55 percent from the free throw line,” North Laurel coach Brad Sizemore said.
After trailing by as much as 16 points, North Laurel would pull as close as four points late in the third quarter before the Colonels closed strong.
“I told them before the game this would be a hard place to get a win if we didn’t play really well. I knew it was going to be loud and Whitley County plays really hard,” Sizemore said. “Whitley County wanted to beat us tonight. They wanted this game.”
It was North Laurel that started hot with an active defense helping build a 10-2 lead. A pair of three-pointers by the Colonels’ Corey Johnson turned the fast start around quickly. The three-pointers would also start the 23-2 run.
“We got up 10-2 and just let them hit a couple of threes and get back in the game and set their press,” Sizemore said.
Once Whitley County got into the press, it took control. For more than five minutes, the only points North Laurel managed was on a pair of free throws. Nearly every point the Colonels scored resulted from a turnover as they opened a 25-12 lead.
“We were obviously in panic mode. We didn’t guard. We gave them a lot of layups,” Sizemore said.
Elijah Jervis stopped the bleeding with a three-pointer. Jervis made three three-pointers in 2:30 as North Laurel cut the lead to single digits before trailing 36-23 at halftime.
“If Elijah hadn’t hit the threes he hit in the first half we’re probably down 20 at the half. We were lucky to be down 13,” Sizemore said.
A three-pointer by Levi Barton to open the second half had the Whitley County lead back to 16 points. A few adjustments and a shot confidence started to turn the game around for North Laurel.
“We just started playing with some confidence and got some energy going. We went to a 1-3-1 and got some steals. You start hitting the basket and you start wanting to play a little bit,” Sizemore said.
Leading scorer Peyton Broughton also started to find some good looks after being shut out in the first half. Broughton scored 11 of his team-high 15 points in the third quarter.
“They started off playing him really physical in the first half and gave him some problems. He got going a little bit in the third quarter,” Sizemore said.
A steal and layup by Weston Griebel with 33 seconds in the third quarter had North Laurel within 49-45.
“I thought we were going to come back and win the game. We cut it to four and then didn’t do anything in the fourth quarter,” Sizemore said.
A minute into the fourth quarter the Colonels lead was back to double figures. It wouldn’t drop below 10 again. One reason was eight straight free throws by Whitley County, who made 19-of-26 for the game.
“Give them credit. They shot well from the free throw line. They played a lot harder than us at different times of the game,” Sizemore said. “Once we got behind they didn’t miss a lot of shots at the foul line. We got the ball in the lane three or four times and couldn’t finish it. We get fouled and go to the line and not make either one of them it’s hard to compete.”
North Laurel has lost three straight games for the first time this year. Sizemore knew it would be three tough road games for his team with three more coming up.
“We’ve played two really good teams this week and Whitley is playing really well too. We obviously thought this was a game we could win on the road, but you’re not going to beat anybody playing as poorly as we did tonight,” Sizemore said.
The Jaguars were scheduled to play at Oneida Baptist Saturday with road games this week against Bell County and South Laurel.
“This four games in one week has been a tough skid especially for us. We’re just trying to learn. We’ve got three weeks in the season left to figure it out,” Sizemore said.
Whitley County 77, North Laurel 61
North Laurel 11 12 22 16—61
Whitley County 10 26 15 26—77
NORTH LAUREL (61)—Broughton 15, Miller 14, Jervis 9, Thompson 4, Asher 6, Jeffers 8, Griebel 2, Hodges 3.
WHITLEY COUNTY (77)—Foley 4, Sasko 21, Barton 9, Woods 17, Crisologo 6, Petrey 7, Johnson 13.