By Les Dixon / Sports Editor
JACKSON COUNTY — The defending 13th Region champion North Laurel Jaguars are trying to gain some confidence and momentum heading into postseason play, but saw their season-best three-game win streak come to an end by losing to 49th District rival Jackson County Tuesday, 71-61.
The Jaguars (13-12) trailed by as much as 15 points (45-30) in the second half before pulling to within four points (51-47) in the fourth quarter.
But that’s when Jackson County’s Jordan Fox took over and guided his team to the 10-point win. Fox finished with a game-high 20 points, seven assists and four rebounds while eighth grader Peyton Broughton led the Jaguars with an 18-point scoring effort.
North Laurel will now await Friday’s game between the Generals (17-8) and Clay County to see who it will face in an elimination game of the upcoming 49th District Tournament, which is going to be held at Jackson County.
If the Generals win by two points or more, they will be the No. 1 seed, but if Clay County wins, the Tigers will be the No. 1 seed, forcing a third matchup between Greg Parrot’s squad and the Jaguars.
“We just came out a step slow tonight,” North Laurel coach Brad Sizemore said. “We had a couple of guys sick, but Jackson County has a nice team. I thought Fox played well and they really hit some big threes down the stretch that hurt us.
“We just came out flat and now we know we’ve got three games left during the final two weeks and we need to continue to play well,” he added. “We know we’re going to be in a one-game situation now, so we’re just going to have to be ready for it.”
Jackson County 71, North Laurel 61
North Laurel 11 11 21 18 61
Jackson County 12 21 18 20 71
North Laurel (61) — Broughton 18, Carson 14, Thompson 4, Henson 6, Allen 6, Rush 8, Jervis 3, Miller 2.
Jackson County (71) — Fox 20, Hammons 9, Wafers 11, Bingham 8, Lawson 16, Whitehead 3, Neeley 4.