By Les Dixon For the Times-Tribune
MCCREARY CENTRAL - Eddie Mahan's North Laurel Lady Jaguars dug themselves too big of a hole in the first half, dropping a season-opening 69-65 loss to 12th Region foe McCreary Central.
The Lady Jaguars (0-1) turned the ball over nine times in the first half, and trailed 19-9 at the end of the first quarter and 39-26 at halftime before putting together a rally during the game's final 16 minutes.
North Laurel outscored the Lady Raiders (1-0) 39-30 in the second half, but couldn't overcome 15 turnovers committed during the contest while shooting a dismal 7-of-22 from the free-throw line.
“We got behind early and lost the ballgame in the first half,” Mahan said. “This loss should hurt. The last couple of years I could accept a loss like this and use it as a building block, but this isn't one of those times.
“I have higher expectations of this team,” he added. “Our defense was horrible. We can score, but we are not defending at the level that I want them to. I'll take the blame. This is such a new team that is has taken us a while to find what we are good at."
Despite his team's first-game struggles, the Lady Jaguars did manage to hit eight 3-pointers while having four players score in double figures.
Hannah Gray led the way with 18 points, as she finished the game with two 3-pointers, while Kayla Bruner made her return from last year's ACL injury and scored 16 points with nine of those coming during the third quarter.
“Hannah has been our most-consistent player,” Mahan said. “She has been tremendous. Kayla has been good on offense, but she's got to continue to improve on defense.”
North Laurel will be back in action at home Wednesday against Madison Central.
McCreary Central 69, North Laurel 65
North Laurel 9 17 18 21 65
McCreary Central 19 20 15 15 69
North Laurel (65) – Gray 18, Bruner 16, Lawson 13, Bridges 2, Sexton 2, Raines 11, Chesnut 3.
McCreary Central (69) – Kiser 4, Neal 7, Jones 2, Cotton 28, Terry 26, Stephens 2.
By Les Dixon For the Times-Tribune
- Local Sports
The Williamsburg Yellow Jackets are partying like it's 1987! That was the last time the Jackets won a game in the 13th Region Tournament, and they ended the 27-year drought with a 47-44 win over the heavily-favored Knox Central Panthers on Thursday night.
Les Dixon's Daily Region Pick'Em
When it comes to picking region tournament games, it’s not an easy task to say the least. This is the most parity that I’ve ever seen in the 13th Region Boys and Girls Tournaments.
If Clay County’s play during the first game of the 13th Region Tournament is any indication of things to come, Robert Marcum’s squad could be well on its way of capturing their second straight 13th Region championship.
The Way it is
Since I’m picking Corbin to pull off the upset against Jackson County today, I figured I’d give my top five upsets dating back to 2005-06 when the 13th realigned and welcomed both North and South Laurel high schools to the mix.
Tony Pietrowski’s Corbin Redhounds have been favored during the past two first round 13th Region match-ups, and have been upset both times. Corbin is hoping things might change a bit this time around.
Barbourville will have hands full against Bell County today
Dinky Phipps’ Barbourville Tigers are looking for their first 13th Region Tournament win dating back to 2006’s tournament when they defeated Clay County in the regional semifinals.
Like It or Not
There’s an elephant in the room at this year’s 13th Region Tournament, and really in basketball in general, and I guess I’ll be the first one to point it out (publicly with my name attached to it).
Chris' Daily Region Pick'Em
With the first three days of opening round games in the books, I can honestly say I'm not surprised that I'm 4-2 overall when it comes to my pick'ems record.
You can never count out the Clay County Lady Tigers when it comes to the 13th Region Tournament.
Les Dixon's Daily Region Pick'em
After going just .500 during the girls games, things are going to get even tougher when it comes to picking the 13th Region Boys Tournament games.
- More Local Sports Headlines
- Knoxed Out