HINDMAN —Eddie Mahan’s North Laurel Lady Jaguars avoided their first two-game losing skid in more than two years by rallying to defeat Bell County, 57-52, in overtime during Friday’s Third Place Game of the WYMT Mountain Classic.
The Lady Jaguars (4-1) stared down a 47-42 deficit late in regulation before rallying with a 5-0 run to force overtime. North Laurel outscored the Lady Bobcats 7-2 during the extra period to collect its second win of the season over Bell County.
After being held to only two points in the first half, senior Hailee Valentine led the Lady Jaguars with 18 points while Chloe McKnight added 14 points — both players were named to the All-Tournament team. Both Emily Sizemore and Gracie McKnight finished with 10 points apiece.
North Laurel struggled offensively in the first half, failing to knock down the long-range shot along with turning the ball over uncharacteristically.
The Lady Jaguars built a 17-16 lead in the first quarter behind seven points from Gracie McKnight and six points from Chloe McKnight.
Bell County’s Gracie Jo Wilder kept her team in the game by scoring 13 points.
Chloe McKnight added four more points in the second quarter while Emily Sizemore added three points in the second quarter as both teams entered the locker room at halftime tied at 17 apiece.
North Laurel’s struggles carried over into the third quarter but Valentine managed to get the hot hand, scoring seven points during the period while triggering a 7-0 run that saw the Lady Jaguars build a 34-30 advantage with four minutes remaining. Bell County closed out the quarter with a 10-4 run to take a 40-38 lead into the fourth quarter.
Bell County opened the final period of play with a 7-2 run, extending its lead to 47-42, but a basket by Chloe McKnight and a 3-pointer by Bella Sizemore with 3:18 left tied the game at 47 apiece.
After a free throw and a basket by Wilder gave the Lady Bobcats a 50-47 lead with less than two minutes remaining in regulation, Valentine was converted an old-fashioned 3-point play with 48 seconds remaining, tying the game at 50 apiece.
North Laurel put the game away during the opening minutes of overtime with a basket by Valentine, and free throws by Emily Sizemore and Gracie McKnight gave the Lady Jaguars a 55-50 lead.
Bell County’s Wilder connected with a layup to cut the Lady Bobcats deficit to 55-52 with less than two minutes to play but Gracie McKnight wrapped the win up with two more free throws.
North Laurel 57, Knott Central 52
Bell County 15 12 13 10 7 57
North Laurel 16 11 11 12 2 52
Bell County (52) — Johnson 2, Wilder 29, Ausmus 14, Mills 6, Kerns 1.
North Laurel (57) — C. McKnight 14, E. Sizemore 10, Valentine 18, B. Sizemore 5, G. McKnight 10.