By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
BOONEVILLE—After six ties and 15 lead changes, North Laurel put the clamps on Owsley County for a 55-44 win. The Jaguars held Owsley County to two field goals in the final period.
“Playing on back-to-back nights and traveling, but we had a good fourth quarter. It was a one-point game and to finish it out like that, we did a good job,” North Laurel coach Brad Sizemore said.
The Jaguars were coming off an emotional loss the previous night at South Laurel. That was followed by the long, winding bus trip to Owsley County. It’s just the beginning of a brutal stretch of schedule for North Laurel.
“It’s either play hard, get better, and really compete or you’re going to hit a wall right here. Like I told (the team), from here on out there are no easy ones,” Sizemore said. “If we will really embrace the teams we are playing and be ready to go every night, it’s going to get us ready for the district tournament.”
The Jaguars will play Breathitt County Tuesday in the WYMT Classic. Breathitt County is one of two teams to beat Harlan County this season. Harlan County and Clay County are also in the eight-team tournament. The next week for North Laurel includes a road trip to Corbin and a rematch with Clay County. Owsley County looked like the easiest game of the stretch, but it was far from easy.
“We’re a work in progress. We’ll take it and move on to the next one,” Sizemore said. “I did think we did some good things tonight.”
North Laurel came out with a lot of energy, but Owsley County matched them shot for shot. Each basket tied the game or changed the lead until Kendrick Henson’s three-pointer with 2:10 in the first quarter. The Jaguars’ lead reached four points by the end of the quarter. The Jaguars managed just one field goal in the second quarter, another three-pointer by Henson on an inbounds play. The offensive drought allowed Owsley County to rally. The Owls ended the half on a 6-0 run for a 28-23 lead.
A three-pointer to open the second half made it an eight-point lead, but it would be over five minutes before Owsley County made another field goal. Marcus Carson jump started the defense with a pair of steals that led to layups during a 9-0 North Laurel run.
“He made some big plays there. I thought Austin Thompson made some big plays down the stretch going to the basket,” Sizemore said. “I thought we did a good job of guarding. Their big kid on the inside is a handful. We did a lot better job keeping him off the boards.”
Owsley County led by one point going into the fourth quarter with Elijah Jervis beating the buzzer with a three-pointer. A free throw from Jake Allen tied the game. A steal and three-point play from Thompson gave North Laurel the lead for good at 43-40. It was a 12-0 run for the Jaguars beginning with the Jervis bomb.
North Laurel 55, Owsley County 44
North Laurel 15 8 16 16—55
Owsley County 11 17 12 4—44
NORTH LAUREL (55)—Carson 10, Broughton 2, Thompson 9, Rush 3, Allen 14, Henson 11, Jervis 4, Asher 2.
OWSLEY COUNTY (44)—Shelby 8, B. Hall 2, C. Hall 10, Allen 15, Grove 9.