By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
In a game worthy of a championship, North Laurel and Corbin wrestled for four quarter before the Jaguars claimed the Legacy Nissan Shootout title, 70-67.
“It was a great game for us to win. I thought we got a lot out of this game because it was a district tournament-type atmosphere,” North Laurel coach Brad Sizemore said.
There were five ties and seven lead changes in a game never separated by more than eight points. The Redhounds took the lead for the last time with 4:05 to play, but were not out of it until a desperation three-pointer at the buzzer missed.
“They’re one of those teams you can’t relax until the horn goes off,” Sizemore said.
Sizemore said one of the keys for his team was to play four full quarters, something they had failed to do in losses to other top region foes this season. They were also very secure with the ball with very few turnovers or bad decisions.
“I tell them every game if we can stay between seven and nine turnovers and play the speed we want to play, we’ll be fine,” Sizemore said.
It would be especially important in a game like this where intensity rumbled from the opening tip to the final shot. It took less than two minutes for the officials to call a technical. The Redhounds connected early from the outside, while North Laurel tried to establish their inside advantage.
The Jaguars first lead came at 13-10 on a three-pointer by Peyton Broughton. North Laurel ended the first quarter with a three-point lead. A three-pointer by Austin Thompson and a bank by Carson to open the second quarter had the Jaguars ahead 20-12, their biggest lead.
“Corbin’s one of those teams, there are three or four of them in our region, that no matter what the deal is when you play them it is going to be a knock-down-drag-out,” Sizemore said. “It’s a very competitive game, both teams want to win and both teams play at a high level.”
The Redhounds tied the score twice from there, but the Jaguars were back on top 35-28 when the half ended. A big reason was the three three-pointers by Thompson in the second quarter.
“He’s out there for a reason. He’s a good player. They focused in on our bigs and tried to cut Marcus off,” Sizemore said. “He stepped up and made some big shots when we needed them.”
The Jaguars led 39-33 with 4:50 in the third quarter when Corbin reeled off nine straight points. Every time the Redhounds needed a basket they had someone step up.
“I’ve watched them three or four times. That’s why they’ve got a really good team. They don’t really have one guy they are looking at. They spread the ball out and every one of them can shoot it,” Sizemore said. “We tried to box-and-one them, triangle-and-two them a couple of times, but they are just so hard to pick one kid to try and shut down because you leave someone open.”
The lead didn’t last long with Elijah Jervis sinking two free throws and then a three-pointer to give the lead back to North Laurel. There would be four lead changes in the fourth quarter. The Redhounds were on top for the last time at 55-54. North Laurel took the lead for good on a three-pointer by Jake Allen with 3:40 to play.
Every time it seemed like the Jaguars might put the game away, Corbin proved otherwise. With 33 seconds, a three-point play by Zach Farley made it a two-point game. Broughton scored on an assist from Carson, but two Farley free throws with 10.8 seconds kept Corbin alive.
A free throw by Allen made it 70-67. Farley attempted a three-pointer to tie, but the shot was tipped. When Thompson was missed at the free throw line, the Redhounds had one last chance, but along three-pointer never had a chance.
“Hopefully we’ll get better each game, but this is a really big win for us. It’s a good confidence builder,” Sizemore said.
Legacy Nissan Shootout
at North Laurel
North Laurel 70, Corbin 67
Corbin 12 16 16 23—67
North Laurel 15 20 13 22—70
CORBIN (67)—Farley 23, Maguet 9, Hill 8, Grubb 16, Igo 9, Henson 2.
NORTH LAUREL (70)—Carson 21, Henson 2, Broughton 7, Thompson 12, Rush 4, Allen 15, Jervis 9.