LONDON — The 13th Region’s hottest team paid a visit to The Jungle on Saturday, and by the time the Knox Central Lady Panthers left, they saw their five-game win streak come to an end after suffering an 80-45 setback to North Laurel.
Gracie Jervis set the pace early for the Lady Jaguars by scoring 16 of her game-high 31 points in the first quarter, which allowed North Laurel to lead by as many as 30 points in the first half.
“Gracie has games like that, here and there. She’s always a good player, but when she gets hot like that, she’s hard to stop,” North Laurel coach Eddie Mahan said. “It wasn’t just from hitting threes, even though she did hit five, but she also attacked the basket. She was 6-of-10 from the floor shooting the two, and most of that was from attacking the rim, drawing fouls like she should be doing.
“We were able to get the win, and I thought we came out ready and focused,” he added. “I thought Courtney (Carroll) played well on Senior Night, and shot the ball well. I thought they did a good job on Raegan Hubbard early on, but we had other players step up like Gracie, who had an outstanding game.”
Knox Central (13-11) was hoping to extend its season-best five-game win streak, but never had an answer for North Laurel (21-6) on either end of the court.
The Lady Jaguars led 27-7 at the end of the first quarter and 44-16 at halftime before outscoring the Lady Panthers, 36-29, in the second half.
“Everyone came into this year knowing Knox Central is a very talented team,” Mahan said. “They’ve had their ups and downs, but they’ve been on a hot streak. They are probably the hottest team in our region.
“To come out here and take care of business, especially early on is big,” he added. “But with that said, I thought our defense was lackadaisical at times, and our rebounding was active early on, but then we let up quite a bit. If we get a 20-point lead in the postseason, we’ve got to continue to do the things that got us to that point. Those types of leads will disappear quick if we don’t.”
Carroll (12 points) and Hailee Valentine (11 points) each scored in double figures for North Laurel while Emily Davis led Knox Central with 15 points. Teammates Caylan Mills and Presley Partin followed with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
The Lady Jaguars will travel and play Estill County today before hosting Hazard and Pineville this week to finish out regular season play.
“We still have some tough games coming up,” Mahan said. “We want to finish strong. We’ve got Estill County, Pineville and Hazard. Those are all tests that will be good for us to get ready for Jackson County in the district tournament.”
Knox Central will host Whitley County today at 7:30 p.m.