By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
first loss of the season may have played a role in its second. The Jaguars lost to East Ridge Saturday, 65-53, less than two days after playing three overtimes with Jackson County.
“East Ridge has got a pretty good team. I just thought it was a sloppy game from us. We came out very flat and didn’t have any legs, which I was worried about,” North Laurel coach Brad Sizemore said.
The Jaguars went through a light shoot around on Friday to prepare for East Ridge and another light session Saturday morning. Then they boarded the bus for a two-hour drive to Letcher County Central.
“I just think we were flat mentally and physically. We had a lot of open looks and the ball just sort of hit the rim and didn’t go in,” Sizemore said.
East Ridge was coming off three straight losses. They lost three-point games to Sheldon Clark and Owen County. Before that they dropped an overtime game to Letcher County Central.
The Warriors opened a 17-7 lead in the first quarter with nothing going right for North Laurel. There were misses from inside and outside. The Jaguars were also getting beaten on the boards and the press wasn’t effective.
“We got killed on the boards and we didn’t finish our shots inside like we needed to. When you come over here and play in this region it’s going to be physical. I told them that before the game,” Sizemore said.
East Ridge cruised to a 24-9 lead before the Jaguars showed signs of life with a 12-4 run.
“We just missed a lot of easy shots around the basket and we had a lot of open threes on the perimeter that I just kept waiting for them to go down. I kept telling them to shoot it because they were standing there wide open,” Sizemore said.
The rally started with a baseline drive by Austin Thompson. And a pair of free throws from Elijah Jervis. A steal by Peyton Broughton led to a layup for Marcus Carson. After a putback by Johnny Miller of East Ridge, Kendrick Henson was fouled as he sank a three-pointer. Henson added the free throw for a four-point play. Henson led North Laurel with 18 points.
“Kendrick came in and hit five threes. I was glad to see him get going offensively,” Sizemore said.
The Jaguars momentum would carry over to the second half. Henson played a big role with three three-pointers in the third quarter.
He connected on back-to-back possessions to pull North Laurel within 37-35. A jumper by Ryan House to end the third quarter tied the score for the first time at 37-37. Much of the Jaguars’ rally featured a five-guard lineup.
“We were just trying to do anything to get them sped up. When we had our bigs out there they were just spreading us out and getting to the rim,” Sizemore said. “They’ve got four guys out there that can handle it. They’ve got some strong kids. Those two guards are really, really quick. We had a hard time staying in front of them.”
North Laurel’s first lead came on an offensive rebound by Thompson. It would also be their only lead. It would last just 12 seconds before Miller put the Warriors back on top with a pair of free throws. Miller’s shot would start a 13-2 run.
“I thought we played a good third quarter. We just kind of hit a wall in the fourth quarter and couldn’t do anything,” Sizemore said.
East Ridge is a Pike County school, product of the 2002 consolidation of Milliard, Elkhorn City, and Feds Creek. The Warriors first-year head coach, Randy McCoy, led Pikeville College for seven years before leaving due to health reasons. The Warriors lost in the finals of the 14th Region last season to Johnson Central last year.
“They’ve lost a lot of tough games early in the year. I knew they were good,” Sizemore said.
North was scheduled to travel to Harlan County tonight.
Whitaker Bank Cougar Classic
at Letcher County Central
East Ridge 65, North Laurel 53
North Laurel 7 14 16 16—53
East Ridge 17 11 9 28—65
NORTH LAUREL (53)—Carson 6, Henson 18, Thompson 8, Broughton 8, Rush 2, Jervis 7, House 4.
EAST RIDGE (65)—Miller 21, Coleman 11, Skeens 5, Hagy 2, Chaney 6, Fields 10, Adkins 10.