By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
SOMERSET—It wasn’t a win, but there was reason to be optimistic.
“Overall I am pleased. There are very few times in my career I have been happy with 19-point loss. I was pleased with our effort and that’s a step in the right direction,” North Laurel coach Eddie Mahan said.
North Laurel’s 73-54 loss was competitive aside from a second quarter where Somerset outscored the Lady Jaguars 26-8. That quarter followed one of the best first quarters of the season.
North Laurel led early in the first quarter. They were just a couple of Somerset three-pointers from leading at the end. The first quarter ended with a momentum swing to the Lady Jaguars with Hannah Lawson beating the buzzer with a three-pointer. North Laurel also rebounded well and played aggressive defense the entire first period.
The second quarter began with an Ashley Wyatt steal leading to a Kendall Ellington layup. It also tied the score for the first time at 14-14.
“That’s the best we have played in a long time. It was definitely the most effort. I felt like we were focused,” Mahan said.
It would be hard to single out what happened at that point because so many things happened. North Laurel had rebounded well in the first quarter, but rebounding would suffer when Makayla Sexton picked up a second foul and sat the second quarter.
“Rebounding was a big key, a huge aspect of that and Makayla Sexton was out during that time with foul trouble. She’s such a difference for us whether she is getting the rebound or not. She’s a space clearer. She gives everyone else the opportunity to go in there and crash,” Mahan said.
Without Sexton, the Lady Jaguars were outrebounded 14-5 in the second quarter. The foul trouble continued to mount. By halftime, a pair of North Laurel players had three fouls and three more had two fouls.
“We were fouling a lot. I would like to have seen more fouls on the other end with us penetrating as much as I wanted us to,” Mahan said.
The foul count at halftime was 14 called against the Lady Jaguars and just three against Somerset.
“We have to learn to live like that. We have to go on the road and be able to play a 12th Region team,” Mahan said.
Add to the foul trouble and rebounding trouble, there would be turnover issues. After a relatively clean first quarter, the Lady Jaguars committed eight turnovers in the second quarter. The result was a 15-0 spurt by the Lady Briar Jumpers after North Laurel tied the score.
Somerset rolled to a 40-20 halftime lead. North Laurel would outscore the Lady Briar Jumpers in the second half, but it was too much ground to make up.
North Laurel made 6-of-8 shots in the third quarter, including a pair of three-pointers from Brooke Carpenter. Carpenter led the Lady Jaguars with 14 points. The Lady Jaguars also made all seven free throws in the third quarter and 13-of-15 for the game. Mahan said it was a sign they were focused.
North Laurel pulled as close as 12 points late in the third quarter. Back-to-back baskets by Ashley Wyatt to open the fourth quarter had the Somerset lead down to 55-45. A three minute dry spell would end thoughts of a dramatic comeback.
Knox Central 67, North Laurel 34
North Laurel lost for the eighth straight time with Knox Central winning its third straight game.
The Lady Panthers led 20-8 after one quarter and 40-13 at halftime.
Senior guard Jenna Mills led the Lady Panthers with 27 points, including three three-pointers. Mills is averaging 20 points per game on the year.
North Laurel was led by Kendall Ellington with seven points.
Somerset 73, North Laurel 54
North Laurel 12 8 11 23—54
Somerset 14 26 15 18—73
NORTH LAUREL (54)—Wyatt 13, Lawson 7, Carpenter 14, Ellington 8, Gray 6, Sexton 6.
SOMERSET (73)—Edwards 15, Ford 7, Brooks 6, Scott 29, Bigelow 7, Johnson 8, Brown 1.
Knox Central 67, North Laurel 34
Knox Central 20 20 12 15—67
North Laurel 8 5 12 9—34
KNOX CENTRAL (67)—J. Mills 27, Shippy 14, Carnes 10, Hubbard 6, Patterson 8, Wagers 2.
NORTH LAUREL (34)—Wyatt 6, Lawson 1, Carpenter 5, Ellington 7, Gray 4, Sexton 6, Chestnut 3, Smith 2.