By Les Dixon
PINEVILLE — Time is running out for Brad Sizemore’s North Laurel Jaguars to gain some momentum and confidence with the 49th District around the corner next week.
The defending 13th Region champions saw their record fall under .500 at 13-14 after dropping a 66-56 decision to Pineville Tuesday. The Jaguars have now dropped three straight games and six out of their last nine.
“We just struggled,” North Laurel coach Brad Sizemore said. “We had no energy in the first half and then we decide we want to play a little bit in the third. That’s kind of what our deal is — we usually do that.
“We come out flat for whatever reason and then we try to turn it on in the third quarter, but you’ve got to give them a lot of credit,” he added. “They took care of the ball and made free throws down the stretch.”
North Laurel could also be without Kendrick Henson, who suffered an injury late in the game against the Mountain Lions.
“I don’t know if he’s hyperextended it (his knee) or whatever,” Sizemore said. “The kid split the trap and I think they bumped knees. He’s got a big knot on his knee.”
The Jaguars dug themselves an early hole with poor shooting, as John Simpson’s three-pointer to end the first quarter gave Pineville an early 14-12 edge. Sizemore’s squad connected on only four-of-13 shot attempts in the first quarter and things got even worse in the second quarter.
Sizemore’s squad misfired on its first six shots in the period and connected on only one-of-15 shot attempts, as the Mountain Lions’ lead grew to 30-18 at halftime thanks to North Laurel’s five-of-28 shooting during the game’s first 16 minutes.
“We had a lot of open looks, but just couldn’t make it,” Sizemore said. “Pineville has a nice team and we knew that coming over here.”
The Jaguars played with a sense of urgency to begin the second half and got as close as six points (43-37) in the third quarter before Pineville scored a basket right before the buzzer to take a 45-37 edge into the final quarter of play.
North Laurel had a chance to cut into the Mountain Lions’ lead, but misfired on six straight shot attempts, as Simpson and company built a commanding 53-43 lead with 2:51 remaining in regulation.
Two straight three-pointers by Marcus Carson got the Jaguars to within four points (53-49) of Pineville at the 2:21 mark, but the Mountain Lions closed the game out with a 13-7 run.
North Laurel finished the game shooting 19-of-63 from the floor while turning the ball over 10 times.
“We’re down here at the final stretch and it’s obviously time that we need to start playing,” Sizemore said. “We’re going to try and stay positive with them and go to the next practice and the next game. I can’t really put my finger on what the reason is.”
Pineville 66, North Laurel 56
North Laurel 12 6 19 19 56
Pineville 14 16 15 21 66
North Laurel (56) — Carson 12, Broughton 5, Thompson 4, Henson 2, Allen 10, Rush 7, Jervis 10, Miller 6.
Pineville (66) — Philpot 7, Collett 8, Simpson 25, Skinner 13, Asher 2, Ford 2, Jeffrey 9.