By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
North Laurel coach Eddie Mahan expected a closer game with Madison Central than the 69-41 final score. The Lady Jaguars trailed by just eight at halftime with chances to be even closer.
“Conditioning was part of it. Both mentally and physically we have to do a better job of getting ready for these ball games. I know we had to take it down a notch in some of our preseason conditioning because of injuries. We have to be in better shape than we are right now or at least what we look like we are,” Mahan said.
After a pair of early ties, Madison Central scored six straight points for a 10-4 lead. The Lady Indians would extend the lead to 20-8. It wasn’t the Lady Jaguars’ defense that allowed the points, but turnovers on offense leading to easy baskets.
“Some of it is lack of preparation on my part. We weren’t as prepared for the press as I thought. I knew they did a 2-2-1 some in years past. I told the girls that and I knew we hadn’t worked on it a whole lot. I kind of thought our ball handling was good enough without having to do a whole lot on it,” Mahan said.
North Laurel finished the first quarter strong, beginning with Hannah Gray scoring on an assist from Kelsey Chestnut. Hannah Lawson scored in transition after a rebound by Ashley Rains. Lawson closed out the quarter with a free throw to pull the Lady Jaguars within 20-13.
Kayla Bruner opened the second quarter with a put back to trim the lead to five points. North Laurel missed enough layups and open looks during its comeback to give them a lead.
North Laurel then went more than five minutes without a field goal as Madison Central pulled ahead 29-19. Still the Lady Jaguars weren’t getting burned on the Lady Indians offense as much as their offensive rebounding.
“The first part of the game is when we weren’t rebounding well. That’ when we were trying to take breaks,” Mahan said.
Despite what they had not done well, North Laurel only trailed 31-23 at halftime.
“I thought we had played pretty good, but I thought we could play better and going into the half it made it feel like we were in a good situation. Then we came out in the third quarter and didn’t show up. That was the difference in the ball game,” Mahan said.
Madison Central scored the first 17 points of the second half. North Laurel’s first field goal was against the press by Ashton Bridges with just under a minute in the third quarter.
“Once it looked like we weren’t in it my kids just kind of looked like they quit and that’s what I’m most disappointed in. I don’t want that from our team,” Mahan said.
Madison Central is defending 11th Region champion, but wasn’t projected to be as strong this season. Mahan expected a much closer game with his team off a 69-65 loss to McCreary Central in their season opener.
“They are not ranked real high in the 11th. I think they are ranked seventh or eighth, something like that. They do have a Division I post player. You aren’t going to see any posts like her in the 13th Region,” Mahan said.
Center Shadae Bosley blocked seven shots, including three on one possession and also pulled 12 rebounds. It wasn’t Bosley that impressed Mahan the most.
“Their guards are what is kind of impressive to me because they are solid. Solid players go a long way. They don’t get out of control. They all handle the ball decently. They shoot the ball pretty well, so if you have solid guards like that it makes you look pretty good,” Mahan said.
The Lady Jaguars will try to pick up their first win Monday at Rockcastle County.
Madison Central 69, North Laurel 41
Madison Central 20 11 20 18—69
North Laurel 13 10 2 16—41
MADISON CENTRAL (69)—Bosley 11, Christian 8, O’Bryan 12, Cain 5, Fultz 2, Willoughby 8, Johns 14, Mack 4, Schneid 5.
NORTH LAUREL (41)—Bruner 9, Gray 8, Lawson 7, Bridges 4, Sexton 6, Raines 3, Chestnut 2, Brummett 2.