By Dan Connell / Staff Writer
PIKEVILLE — The North Laurel Jaguars opened tournament play in the Pikeville Invitational on Thursday afternoon as they faced the Paintsville Tigers in first round action.
The Jags were looking to improve on their 6-4 start to the season and came away with a 51-48 win to begin tournament action.
"We were up by 12 at the half and came out and played a bad third quarter," North Laurel coach Brad Sizemore said. "We let them get back in the game and they started hitting some shots late and we were fortunate to get the win. We competed the entire game, we just had a hard time making plays and they hurt us on the boards a little bit, but we'll take the win and advance to the next round and get ready for Betsy Layne," Sizemore added.
Both teams found it difficult to score in the opening quarter of play as North Laurel held a slim 11-6 lead after the first period.
The lead grew for the Jags in the second quarter as Bryson Asher and Chris Miller sparked a small scoring run to close out the second period and North Laurel enjoyed a 12-point 26-14 lead at halftime.
Quinton Hensley led the Tigers' offense with six points at intermission.
North Laurel opened the second half to a 31-18 lead when the Paintsville offense made a run led by Quinton Hensley who rallied the Tigers with eight points as part of a 12-5 run in the third quarter, which cut the North Laurel lead to just six points with under 3:00 remaining in the period.
However, the Jags responded and built the lead back to 10 points on a Peyton Broughton layup, but the Tigers clawed their way back and trailed 40-34 heading into the final quarter.
The Tigers were hoping to keep the scoring momentum in their corner as Paintsville outscored North Laurel 20-14 in the third quarter.
Paintsville's Luke Daniels, Zach Collins and Thomas Litteral combined on a 10-0 scoring run to tie the score at 40-40 in the fourth quarter, but North Laurel didn't fold as Kyle Jeffers' basket gave the Jags a two-point lead, but the lead exchanged hands on several ensuing possessions going down the stretch.
Thomas Litteral's three-point basket gave Paintsville its final lead of the contest at 48-47 when North Laurel once again turned to Chris Miller and Bryson Asher who combined for a pair of field goals to give the Jags a three point 51-48 lead with under 20 seconds remaining.
Paintsville could not tie the score with a three-point basket at the end of regulation and North Laurel advanced to the second round of the tournament to take on Betsy Layne Friday afternoon in the winner's bracket.
The Jaguars were led in scoring on the evening by Asher with 12 points. Paintsville was led by Hensley with 14.
North Laurel 51, Paintsville 48
No. Laurel 11 15 14 11—51
Paintsville 6 8 20 14—48
North Laurel (51) — Asher 12, Miller 10, Broughton 10, Jervis 8, Jeffers 5, Thompson 3, Maggard 2, Hodges 1
Paintsville (48) — Hensley 14, Lu. Daniels 10, Smith 8, Litteral 8, Trimble 6, Helton 2