By Les Dixon For the Times-Tribune
NORTH LAUREL — The Harlan County Black Bears might have lost the most talent following the 2012-13 season, but the North Laurel Jaguars lost their fair share, too.
Coach Brad Sizemore will be entering his third year as coach of the Jaguars and will field one of the youngest teams in the 13th Region after losing players such as Marcus Carson and Kendrick Henson to graduation, while Jake Allen and Ryan House both transferred to 49th District rival Clay County.
The departure of both Allen and House made North Laurel a tad more inexperienced at certain positions, but the cupboard isn't bare by any means.
“We are very excited for this season,” Sizemore said. “Our players and coaches have been working hard since last spring and we are expecting to have a good year. I think the region is going to have several good teams this year and we have a lot of great players as well. We feel as though we are going to be able to compete with anyone this year and we are looking forward to the challenge of trying to do so.
“We lost some size and speed from last year’s team and also some experience,” he added. “We are going to ask several kids that may have not played that much on the varsity level to step in and play major minutes. The good thing about us is we are a big school and have plenty of talented to kids to work with. We have kids to fill those open spots and it will just be a process of them getting a few games under their belt and getting more comfortable about doing things in a varsity game, which I’m more than confident that our kids can do this.”
Sizemore will return freshman Peyton Broughton, who established himself as one of the region's best players as an eighth-grader last season.
“I’m expecting big things from Peyton this season,” Sizemore said. “Although he is only a freshman, he is one of the leaders on this team that guys look to. We will put a lot of the scoring load on his shoulders and he will also be expected to be a great defender and rebounder for us to win.
“Not to mention that he is going to be asked to run the point guard position for our team,” he added. “I have a lot of confidence in this young man’s abilities and desire to win and I know he will do just fine this season for us.”
With that said, if the Jaguars continue to improve during the preseason and regular season, they could surprise come February and March.
“I look for us to be the surprise team in this region and I think we can be right there in the mix of things come postseason play,” Sizemore said.
By Les Dixon For the Times-Tribune
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