By Chris Parsons
If you’re a North Laurel Jaguars fan, you know that this year’s postseason looks a lot like what Brad Sizemore’s team did last year.
Last season, the Jaguars lost to Clay County in the 49th District Championship game, only to earn a trip to Rupp Arena after a 54-52 victory over the Tigers in the region finals.
If Sizemore and company look to duplicate that feat this season, they first have to get past a Harlan County squad that has already beaten the Jaguars twice this season (72-46 and 51-43), and have the advantage of playing on its home court.
Heading into tonight’s game, Sizemore admitted the task in front of his team is a tall one and said the Jaguars would have to be at their best if they hope to get the win.
“I’ve said all season that they’ve got the best team in this region,” Sizemore said. “I think for us to be able to beat them on their home floor, we’re going to have to play the best game we’ve played all year.
“I do think we’re capable of doing that and I think we match up with them as far as having two post players,” he added. “I think we can give their inside guys some trouble, but we have to keep Brewer out of the lane because I think he’s the guy that really makes them go offensively.”
On the other side of things, the Harlan County Black Bears seem to be on a mission after their opening-round victory over South Laurel. The win got the first-round monkey off the back of coach Mike Jones, who’s team had failed to win a 13th Region Tournament game the past four seasons.
Jones said the win was a big one for the program, but was quick to point out that the important thing was focusing on the next game.
“I told our guys that sometimes you have to win a game like that to be able to move forward, so it was good to be able to get it done,” Jones said. “I hadn’t really said anything to our kids about it during the game, but I think they realized the situation and decided to play the fourth quarter.
“Going into that final period, I just let them know that we had to have stops on offense if we were going to get it done,” he added. “It really won’t mean much though if we don’t win the next game and move on.”
As far as how he expects to get the win, Jones said the Black Bears defense would have to be ready to play because he expects North Laurel to be ready.
“We’re playing the defending region champions and that’s what it comes down to,” Jones said. “I know we’ve beaten them already this year, but that doesn’t matter because they are the next team on our schedule.
“They’re going to come in here and challenge us to make some shots and if that doesn’t work, they have the ability to change things,” he added. “We’re going to have to guard them on defense and not let them shoot the three. If we can do those things well, we can give ourselves a chance to play with them and maybe get a win.”