By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
BARBOURVILLE—A season-high 59 points by North Laurel wasn’t enough against the running and gunning Barbourville Lady Tigers. Barbourville also scored its season high in the 74-59 win.
“We haven’t worked a whole lot on defense because that wasn’t a part of the game we’ve been struggling with,” North Laurel coach Eddie Mahan said. “But 60 points in three quarters is way too much.”
Barbourville wasn’t scoring against the North Laurel defense as much as they were scoring ahead of it. Much of the Barbourville scoring came on run outs with speedy guards Brianna Tate and K.K. Liford winning a foot race to the goal.
“They have two girls that can absolutely handle the ball and two girls inside that like to score. You have that kind of mix you can have a pretty good team,” Mahan said.
Barbourville now boasts a 12-3 record with their losses to Corbin, Somerset, and Harlan County. They have also swept two games against Laurel County teams. The Lady Tigers edged South Laurel in overtime. They have also broken into WYMT’s Mountain Top 10.
Most of the Lady Tigers margin of victory Friday came in the first quarter when they opened a 13-point lead. Much of the damage was done by North Laurel turnovers. The Lady Jaguars turned the ball over three times before they got off their first shot.
Mahan did think favorably matchups helped the Lady Jaguars some with the press. There were still more than 20 turnovers on the night.
“They were still mostly unforced,” Mahan said. “If we could just stick with the ones that are part of basketball, those forced turnovers, we would be much better off.”
North Laurel played even in the second quarter, but saw the Barbourville lead reach 25 points in the third quarter with a 13-0 run. The Lady Tigers run started when Makayla Sexton went to the bench with foul trouble. She had scored the first six points of the half for North Laurel and gave the Lady Jaguars a strong presence on the boards.
“One thing about her is she is going to clear out space. If she doesn’t get the rebound, she’s going to clear out the space where Kendall (Ellington) or Ashley Wyatt can crash and get the board,” Mahan said.
With Sexton out, the Lady Tigers were scoring quickly off North Laurel misses and transition lay-ups. Mahan said many of the 22 Barbourville defensive rebounds turned into points. Sometimes they would just turn and hurl the ball to their end and let the guards run to the ball.
“I said they probably took 10 or 11 of those (rebounds) the other direction for two points. That’s 22 points right there in transition,” Mahan said.
Ellington came off the bench to lead North Laurel with 12 points. Ellington moved to a reserve roll while recovering from injuries. For now, Mahan said he will stick with that rotation.
“She came in and did well for us. Maybe that’s the spark we need off the bench,” Mahan said.
Wyatt scored a dozen. Hannah Lawson and Brooke Carpenter scored 10 each.
“It was nice to see them being a little more aggressive. We’ve just got to learn to play smart basketball and more confident basketball,” Mahan said.
North Laurel was scheduled to host Knox Central Saturday and will travel to Somerset tonight.
Barbourville 74, North Laurel 59
North Laurel 10 16 16 17—59
Barbourville 23 16 22 13—74
NORTH LAUREL (59)—Wyatt 11, Lawson 10, Carpenter 10, Ellington 12, Sexton 6, Gray 8, Chestnut 2.
BARBOURVILLE (74)—Mills 17, Kara Erslan 20, Kelsey Erslan 12, Brianna Tate 15, K.K. Liford 10.