LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
PINEVILLE—North Laurel watched a 12-point lead crumble in the fourth quarter as the Jaguars fell to Bell County 65-59 in overtime Tuesday. To make things worse, much of the time they had to stand and watch the game slip away from the foul line.
“I think we shot 16-of-31. We can’t make one,” North Laurel coach Brad Sizemore said. “Give (Bell County) credit. They made some big plays down the stretch, but that game should have been over.”
The Jaguars made just 7-of-15 free throws in the fourth quarter. Four straight misses at one point included the front of two bonus situations.
“We just get up there and think about it too much. That’s all we’ve worked on for the last two weeks,” Sizemore said.
The ending took away from a strong effort by the Jaguars and what seemed to be a key late-season win. The Jaguars have lost four of their last five games with another tough test tonight against South Laurel. Next week the schedule is no easier with games against Clay County and Corbin.
“We’re getting in the fire a little bit as far as getting in these types of games and trying to get some experience. I’m not down on them at all. We played extremely hard against one of the better teams in our region,” Sizemore said.
The Bobcats’ size and experience did pose a bit of a matchup challenge for North Laurel. Especially challenging was the bruising play inside of Zach Partin, who led Bell County with 21 points.
“They are just so much bigger and more physical than us. We were trying to slow the game down and kill the clock a little bit and hoping they would come out and away from the basket,” Sizemore said.
By packing their defense inside the paint, the Bobcats did free up shots for the North Laurel shooters. The Jaguars shot much better from behind the three-point line than they did the free throw line. North Laurel trailed 4-3 when it scored its next 21 points on three-pointers. The Jaguars made 7-of-10 three-point attempts in the first half.
“We’re capable of shooting like that. It’s just one of those things, if we can get our threes going and our free throws going at the same time and compete like we just did we’re going to have a chance to beat some teams in the tournament,” Sizemore said.
Kyle Jeffers made three three-pointers in the first half and Austin Thompson made a pair back-to-back. But Bell County was able to keep pace by scoring inside. There were six lead changes in the first half with the largest lead 23-18 by the Bobcats. North Laurel led 28-26 at the half.
North Laurel didn’t make a three-pointer in the second half and didn’t appear to need one. An active defense held the Bobcats to eight points in the third quarter. The points were also coming much easier for North Laurel by converting on the Bell County turnovers.
“We probably had more steals in this game tonight than we have all year,” Sizemore said.
North Laurel scored 10 of its 18 points in the third quarter off turnovers. The Jaguars scored the last seven points of the quarter with steals on three straight possessions. They led 46-34 going into the fourth quarter, but also missed three free throws in the last two minutes.
It would get worse in the fourth quarter with four straight missed free throws allowing the Bobcats to cut the lead to 49-44 with 4:02 to play on a three-pointer by Tyler Potter. The lead was still at four with 1:33 to play, when two more missed free throws allowed Bell County to cut another point off the lead.
“We did everything we needed to do to win the game. We just didn’t get to the foul line and put it away. You can’t leave that many points up there,” Sizemore said.
A North Laurel turnover with 52 seconds gave Bell County the ball with a chance to tie. It looked like they might do that when Josh Asher score on a put back and was fouled with 33 seconds. Asher missed the free throw with North Laurel grabbing the rebound. Bell County did the logical thing; send North Laurel to the foul line. This time Chris Miller made both shots with 27 seconds and it looked like the Jaguars might have dodged a bullet.
Bell County’s first three-point attempt missed, but the long rebound ended up in the hands of Jake Patterson. It was Patterson’s only three-pointer of the game.
“We’ve got to learn to get over that mental hump of just hoping the clock winds down,” Sizemore said.
Making it to overtime seemed to boost the Bobcats. They forced a turnover on North Laurel’s first possession. Then they crashed the offensive boards for three shots before Asher scored for the lead. A drive by Miller tied the score, but it would be the final tie. The Jaguars next two possessions ended with a turnover and a missed shot, which was enough to allow Bell County to pull ahead.
“We’re either going to get it straightened out here at the end or our season is going to be over. We’ve got one tough one right after another in these next two weeks,” Sizemore said.
Bell County 65, North Laurel 59
North Laurel 12 16 18 9 4—59
Bell County 15 11 8 21 10—65
NORTH LAUREL (59)—Broughton 10, Jervis 7, Jeffers 9, Miller 15, Asher 5, Thompson 11, Griebel 2.
BELL COUNTY (65)—Woolum 1, Asher 14, Patterson 14, Potter 15, Partin 21.
North Laurel 69, Oneida Baptist 50
North Laurel 19 10 12 28—69
Oneida Baptist 11 13 9 17—50
NORTH LAUREL (69)—Broughton 12, Miller 17, Jervis 4, Thompson 8, Asher 14, Jeffers 11, Griebel 2, Riley 2.
ONEIDA BAPTIST (50)—Robinson 10, Kiawu 21, Osom 2, Decker 12, Quarshie 1, Shackleford 4.