By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Seventy two hours ago, tornadoes ravaged Laurel County, killing five and injuring dozens more. If ever there was a community in need of some good news, it was ours.
The North Laurel Jaguars delivered just that Monday night, beating Clay County in the 13th Region finals to earn their first trip ever to the state tournament.
For all us Laurel Countians, I say ‘thank you.’
Now I know winning a basketball game doesn’t compare to the destruction leveled on our county last Friday. I know it does nothing to bring back those was died, or rebuild the homes that were destroyed.
They say that sports can be used as a healing factor. Games were played after the attack of 9/11. Football helped New Orleans, itself a disaster area after Hurricane Katrina, get back on its feet. One day after his father died, Brett Favre threw for four touchdowns in the first half and 399 total yards in a 41-7 win over the Oakland Raiders. Those are just three examples.
It was the northern part of Laurel County that suffered the most damage, an area that is in the North Laurel district. Maybe this victory can bring some joy to the residents as they try and reclaim their lives.
This victory not only does a lot for the school or the basketball program, it’s something the entire county can look to as something to divert their attention, at least for a little while, away from the destruction.
But it’s not over. North Laurel still has some unfinished business to attend to: Winning the state title. The odds are long, but really, this team has defied the odds many times throughout the season.
The county has come together in the wake of the tornadoes. Now it’s time for the county basketball fans to do the same. This isn’t about North Laurel or South Laurel. This is about Laurel County.
See you at Rupp Arena. And once again, thank you North Laurel.