TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Local Sports

February 7, 2013

Gaining Steam

North Laurel gaining much-needed experience at the right time

CORBIN — By Chris Parsons / Staff Writer

It's no secret that in life, and in sports, there are good days and bad days.

For the North Laurel Lady Jaguars, the 2012-13 basketball season has had more of the latter.

Eddie Mahan's squad picked up its fourth win of the season Tuesday, improving to 4-20 on the season in a 46-37 win over Jackson County.

If there's a bright spot to the season, it may be the experience being gained by the Lady Jaguars' underclassmen. With three seniors on the roster at the beginning of the season, it was obvious that the younger kids would see plenty of playing time.

While Mahan said his team is still trying to win games every time they step on the floor, playing for the future is something his team has done as well.

“I've been very pleased with how our young kids have progressed,” Mahan said. “They have come along tremendously. Hannah Lawson starts for us as a seventh grader and you can see she's doing twice as good as she was doing at the start of the season.

“That's just an example because there are other players that are getting valuable playing time and you can see the progress on a daily basis,” he added.” So, while we don't have the wins I would like to have, I have been pleased with the progression of our kids as the season has went along.”

Speaking of bright spots, one may be the recent play of the Lady Jaguars.

North Laurel won just one of its first 15 games this season, but have now won three since Jan. 12.

If that trend sounds familiar for Lady Jaguar fans, it’s because it is.

Last season North Laurel posted a 7-23 regular season record, but found themselves in the 13th Region Tournament after losing to Clay County in the 49th District finals.

The big surprise came when North Laurel upset Whitley County in the first round of the region tournament, sending one of last year's top teams home for the season.

The Lady Jaguars eventually lost to Harlan County in the second round, but played close to the Lady Bears in a 50-43 game.

If Mahan's squad expects to pull any shockers this postseason, he said the Lady Jaguars are going to have to get more senior leadership, something he said has been lacking so far this year.

“Something I would have liked to have gotten more of is senior leadership,” Mahan said. “My seniors have done a good job of playing and maintaining roles, but we've needed someone to lead and really set the tone for our kids.

“It's sad to say that Kayla Bruner (an eighth grader) would have been our leader on the floor this season, but an injury ended that,” he added. “I still feel like if someone can step up here at the end of the season we can do some good things.”

With the good and the bad, Mahan said he and his staff has not only struggled to keep the players thinking positive, but they've had a hard time being that way themselves at times.

“It's tough on the kids, and at some points in time it's tough for us to stay motivated as coaches,” Mahan said. “You keep working at it and what's frustrating is we see glimpses of being competitive during some games and then just fold at the end.

“What's frustrating is the inconsistency of playing well and at the end of the game not finishing well,” he added. “As a coach though, I see a light at the end of the tunnel and the reality is that with the kids we have we should be competitive next year and really for years to come with what we're doing. But we are still trying to play for today and we know that good things can still happen.”

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