LEXINGTON — “Tonight wasn’t our night.”
North Laurel’s run for a state championship came to an end for the second consecutive season in first round action of the UK HealthCare Boys’ Sweet 16.
A slow start, combined with rebounding woes led to the Jaguars’ 62-54 loss to defending state champion George Rogers Clark.
North Laurel fell behind 18-5 in the first quarter and never recovered, as senior Reed Sheppard’s final game as a Jaguar saw the McDonald’s All-American score 23 points while finishing with four rebounds and seven assists.
“It stinks right now,” Sheppard said of his team’s loss during the postgame conference. “In the locker room, hugging my teammates for the last time, you never want to do that. They’re my best friends, but it’s been a heck of a ride. I couldn’t ask for anything better. North Laurel has been awesome to me.”
Valentine’s squad shot 21-of-50 from the floor, including a 7-of-19 effort from 3-point range.
North Laurel was outrebounded, 34-20, as the Cardinals shot 24-of-45 from the floor, including a 6-of-13 effort from 3-point range.
Sam Parrish led George Rogers Clark with 19 points and nine rebounds while Jerome Morton added 19 points and four rebounds. Reshaun Hampton scored 16 points, and finished with six rebounds.
Ryan Davidson finished his career as a Jaguar with 11 points and six rebounds while Colton Rawlings, Brody Brock, and Gavin Chadwell each scored six points apiece.
The Jaguars came out cold in the first quarter, shooting 2-of-11 from the floor while finding themselves trailing, 18-5.
They were outrebounded by George Rogers Clark, 13-4, while the Cardinals were red-hot from the floor, hitting 8-of-15 shot attempts.
Sheppard led North Laurel with three points in the opening quarter while Parrish dominated for George Rogers Clark, scoring 10 points while grabbing five rebounds.
North Laurel turned in a better shooting effort in the second quarter.
An old-fashioned 3-point play by Sheppard combined with a long range 3-pointer by Sheppard cut the Cardinals’ lead to 18-11 with 6:40 remaining in the first half.
George Rogers Clark extended its lead to 25-13 with 3:46 remaining before Sheppard scored consecutive baskets and then hit a 3-pointer at the 1:22 mark to cut the Jaguars’ deficit to 27-20.
A basket by the Cardinals and a free throw by Brody Brock made the score, 29-21, at halftime.
North Laurel finished the first half shooting 7-of-24 from the floor while Sheppard led the way with 16 points, two assists, two blocks, and two steals.
George Rogers Clark shot 13-of-27 while dominating the boards with a 22-10 edge. Parrish led the way with 15 points while Morton added eight points, and Hampton scored six points.
North Laurel fell behind 13 points early in the third quarter before a 3-pointer by Colton Rawlings made the score, 38-28, with 4:30 remaining in the third quarter.
The Cardinals answered with a 9-0 run before the Jaguars closed out the quarter with five points by Davidson, cutting his team’s deficit to 53-38 with eight minutes remaining.
After falling behind 55-40 with seven minutes remaining, the Jaguars made one final push.
A layup by Davidson triggered a 12-2 run that saw Brock’s 3-pointer cut his team’s lead to 57-50 with 2:47 remaining.
George Rogers Clark put the game away after an old fashioned 3-point play made the score, 60-50, with 1:56 left.
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