By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
When North Laurel left the court after Monday’s 68-38 loss to Rockcastle County, its night wasn’t quite done. Lady Jaguars coach Eddie Mahan held his team in a long meeting after they dropped their fifth straight game.
“I said a little bit more than I would like to have said to my team tonight. Most of it involved our effort and our rebounding. Most of it was focused toward our upperclassmen. They have to be the focal point of whether we are going to win or lose,” Mahan said.
Effort has been the word Mahan has used most in what he expects from this team. He has gotten it at times, but not enough to win.
“We are regressing and I think a lot of that comes from the frustration of not winning. When you play hard for two or three games and end up losing, but at some point in time you have to decide you are going to give out the effort it takes to stay in ballgames,” Mahan said.
The Lady Jaguars next chance to claim a win will be Thursday against Jackson County. Between the Rockcastle County and Jackson County games, Mahan planned to practice hard and see if he needed to change the starting lineup.
“The most important game of the season because we seed (the district tournament). It’s almost a region tournament-type game. If we’re not ready for that we don’t deserve it,” Mahan said.
What he doesn’t want is a repeat of Monday when he felt his team played flat against a team they could compete against. The Lady Rockets are just two years removed from winning a state title. They were winless in two games this season, although Lincoln County and Wayne County are quality opponents.
“Rockcastle is a good team. They are not out of our league by any means. They just outworked us,” Mahan said.
Rockcastle County led 7-0 with two baskets coming on hustle, a loose ball in the lane and an offensive rebound. After a tough basket in the lane by Ashley Wyatt, Rockcastle County scored on two more offensive rebounds. That head start would be the only difference in the first half as North Laurel trailed by just seven points at halftime.
“I felt our effort wasn’t very good in the first half. We were definitely out rebounded,” Mahan said. “I still felt like all we had to do was turn up the energy.”
It didn’t happen. Rockcastle County scored the first five points of the second half with Michaela Hunter pushing the ball up court for layups after North Laurel misses. Hannah Lawson scored for North Laurel on a strong move in the lane, but Lawson would soon exit with foul trouble.
“We came out flat and their press started to get to us a little bit more. We got in a little foul trouble and had to pull Hannah Lawson out, one of our primary ball handlers. They went on a 6-0 run before we could adjust,” Mahan said.
Hunter scored 11 of her game-high 21 points in the third quarter as the Lady Rockets pushed the lead to 20 points.
“(Hunter) is an amazing player. She’s one of the best in this area,” Mahan said. “She’s the type that can take over and that’s what you need at times is a leader. That’s what we’re searching for.”
Rockcastle County put the game away with a 13-0 run to start the fourth quarter.
Rockcastle County 68, North Laurel 38
Rockcastle County 18 14 21 15—68
North Laurel 9 16 8 5—38
ROCKCASTLE COUNTY (68)—Adams 11, Chasteen 14, Hunter 21, Miller 5, Reynolds 2, Coquer 4, Hansel 2, Kelley 2, Albright 2, Saylor 5.
NORTH LAUREL (38)—Wyatt 6, Gray 7, Lawson 8, Carpenter 3, Ellington 5, Sexton 6, Raines 2, Smith 1.