TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY
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.