By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
You can’t buy much with a quarter, but it can be a good down payment on a win.
For North Laurel to compete with South Laurel it has to figure out the first quarter. In the two wins over the Lady Jaguars this season, South Laurel has won the first quarter by a combined 44-8.
“It comes down to our mentality,” North Laurel coach Eddie Mahan said. “I’ll take a lot of the credit on this one because I think we tried to play a little too smart for our own good.”
North Laurel outscored the Lady Cardinals 34-30 in the second half Monday, but lost the game 65-44.
“We tried to game plan a little too much and we got away from what we do best, which is get up and pressure people and try to force turnovers,” Mahan said. “When we started playing that way in the second half and got away from all the thinking we tried to do in the first two quarters we were better.”
South Laurel scored the first 10 points. To that point, North Laurel had missed all four field goal attempts and both free throws. Three of the missed field goals came under the basket. The Lady Jaguars first score came with 4:35 on a layup by Kendall Ellington. It would be over 5:30 before they score again. By then South Laurel led 22-2.
“I would like to do that every game, just come out and be ready to play,” South Laurel coach Konnie Snyder said. “I think it’s important to get that mindset right off the bat to show you are ready to play.”
While the Lady Jaguars made just one of their first 14 shots and only 4-of-27 in the first half, South Laurel would make 16-of-25 in the half. Still Snyder saw room for improvement on the offensive end.
“We felt like we got a little out of sorts a couple of times. We liked the way we pushed the ball. As far as our offensive sets, we weren’t real happy with that,” Snyder said.
North Laurel tried to game plan a defense for the Lady Cardinals. Although they seemed to grasp the plan in practice, it did not transfer to the game.
“I tried to play two or three different defenses in the beginning with some zones and trying to pack it inside. We tried to do some things that required us to break away from what we normally do and they weren’t comfortable with it,” Mahan said.
One reason nothing work for the Lady Jaguars was Taylor Arthur. Arthur averages 17.5 points and 12.6 rebounds per game. The Lady Cardinals senior center finished with 29 points and 10 rebounds.
Snyder said there was no specific effort to get Arthur the ball against an undersized North Laurel lineup.
“That’s just the way we play. It’s not necessarily Taylor, we just like to get the ball in places where we can score,” Snyder said.
Arthur scored her 25th point late in the third quarter, which was only three points less than North Laurel had scored. Arthur is just now starting to get the attention of college coaches. She already had the attention of the North Laurel coach.
“Arthur is so good right now that she is automatic. I give her so much credit. She is an amazing player to me right now. I can’t get over how much she has improved,” Mahan said.
Trailing 35-10 at halftime, the Lady Jaguars did show some life in the second half. After Arthur scored to open the half, North Laurel scored six straight. They would get as close as 19 points when Brooke Carpenter connected on a three-pointer with 3:26 in the third quarter.
“I didn’t necessarily want to expand on the lead, but I would like to have executed better on some things defensively and offensively,” Snyder said.
Monday’s win was the fourth straight for South Laurel (11-10). The Lady Cardinals will host Casey County on Saturday then travels to Breathitt County Monday. North Laurel (3-18) travels to McCreary County Thursday and host Clay County Monday.
South Laurel 65, North Laurel 44
South Laurel 20 15 15 15—65
North Laurel 2 8 20 14—44
SOUTH LAUREL (65)—Arthur 29, Johnson 14, Clonce 8, Baker 6, Parker 2, Miller 3, Reynolds 2, Schafer 1.
NORTH LAUREL (44)— Wyatt 11, Gray 2, Lawson 10, Carpenter 9, Ellington 12.