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Adrian Wardrup has been the main offensive weapon for North Laurel this season.

To get ready for the postseason, North Laurel coach Jim Conway said his team needs the most improvement on the offensive end. He wants the Jaguars to recognize a good shot. That doesn’t always mean just passing up the bad shots. It also means not passing up the chances at open looks.

In last week’s win over Garrard County, not recognizing the good shots meant North Laurel scored just 10 points in the third quarter. The defense was playing so well they were still able to extend their lead.

“I wish we had taken advantage of some of those easier opportunities,” Conway said. “In the district and region you have got to take advantage of those.”

Many of the chances against Garrard County came in transition. It can also be in a set offense or against a press. If it is a good shot, you need to capitalize.

“It’s still a learning process and they are starting to learn,” Conway said.

The Jaguars are averaging 64.2 points per game. They have averaged 74 points in their seven wins and have not lost when they score more than 70 points.?

“We’ll fine-tune a couple of things in our press offense and we’ll tweak some of the things you do on the defensive end,” Conway said.

North Laurel is also still working on what the player rotation will be the rest of the season. That has partially been due to injuries and partially due to production.

Lee Spencer was added to the starting lineup the first of January to provide more offense in the post. It also challenges players to know that their starting position is earned and not a gift.

“The good thing about that is you keep the kids hungry,” Conway said.

The injury situation has improved with Adrian Wardrup’s bruises healing. Dustin Baker has returned to the lineup after recovering from an ankle sprain.

“He’s a good defensive player and he’s a very good athlete. He’s got to step up and help us on the offensive end. He’s got to give us points,” Conway said.

Baker was in the starting lineup against Clay County and Garrard County due to Raymond Shears being out to play in a football all-star game. Although Conway didn’t want to be without one of his top scorers and rebounders, it did have a bright side as well.

“With him stepping away for a couple of games it gives the opportunity to some other guys,” Conway said.

The remainder of the North Laurel schedule is challenging with consecutive games against Shelby Valley, Trinity, Harlan County, and South Laurel. The Jaguars record so far is not what they wanted. It will be important to get some wins, and momentum, going into the post season.

“I just want us to improve so that by the time the district and region comes around we are playing the best basketball we can play,” Conway said. “But wins do carry over momentum and give your kids confidence.”

It won’t be easy. The four game stretch that begins with Shelby Valley will feature teams that have a combined record of 51-15.

“Your goal every game out is to get a (win), but from the coaching standpoint it is to improve every night out, win or lose, regardless of who it is you play,” Conway said. “It’s challenging and it will helps us find out where we are at.”

Mitch Howard can be reached at mhoward@sentinel-echo.com.

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