LONDON — Last season, the North Laurel Lady Jaguars and the Wayne County Lady Cardinals met up for their season opener where the Lady Cardinals handed North Laurel a 57-55 loss, but this year’s season opener had a much different ending.
North Laurel Coach Eddie Mahan was hoping to see his team redeem themselves in Monday night’s season opener against Wayne County and they certainly did, as the Lady Jaguars picked up an impressive 64-32 win over the Lady Cardinals.
“They (Wayne County) had a very big key player out tonight, which obviously changed the way their team played a lot but we did lose to that team in our opener against Wayne County last year,” Mahan said. “So, I was hoping to use this as a gauge, as a matter of fact this whole week was set up to be a gauge of where we are and I think we’re better than what we were last year but we still have a long way to go.”
The Lady Jaguars took an early 11-point lead with Isabel Gray leading the way with seven points for the first quarter, 17-6.
Gracie Jervis knocked down a three-pointer to start the second quarter, giving North Laurel a 20-6 lead with 7:07 left in the quarter.
The Lady Cardinals got into foul trouble in the second quarter, giving the Lady Jaguars eight points off foul shots and allowing North Laurel to take a 20-point lead heading into halftime, 32-12.
North Laurel added 19 points in the third quarter while holding the Lady Cardinals to 11 points. Emily Sizemore led the Lady Jaguars with eight points in the third quarter.
“I thought Emily Sizemore was the difference maker in the third quarter,” Mahan said. “I thought she had a bad first half, she was frustrated but her coming out and kind of setting the tone in the third quarter was the difference maker.”
The Lady Jaguars were able to put the game away in the fourth quarter, holding Wayne County to only nine points while adding 13 more points to the scoreboard to take the 64-32 win.
Despite the win, Mahan said his Lady Jaguars still have a lot they need to work on as the season progresses.
“I don’t ever really care about wins and losses in the regular season, it’s just another practice for us and a chance to see where you’re getting better at,” he said. “At the same time, though, you want to feel like you’re getting better. From what I saw today, we’ve got a long way to go in multiple areas but I think that we’re farther along this year than what we were at this time last year.”
The Lady Jaguars will have another rematch from last season on Thursday, as North Laurel faces Southwestern in the Legacy Nissan Classic.
“It’s a rematch of the Elite 8 last year,” Mahan said. “They (Southwestern) did more than just get the best of us, they handled us pretty well there. I’m hoping my kids show up a little better this time. Win or lose, it’s about getting better and that’s why we schedule the teams that we do. It’s going to be a really good test for us — they were runner-up in the state last year.”
Mahan said this first week of the season is all about finding out his team’s strengths and weaknesses.
“We scheduled three teams this week that beat us last year,” he said. “Wayne County, Southwestern and Marion County were four of our losses out of seven last year. So, I wanted to see where we were. I wanted the challenges. I wanted to come out and play teams like that and that’s the only way we can see our weaknesses. Now we have time to practice on those weaknesses and not finding them out until January or February and saying ‘uh oh, we have two weeks until tournament time.’ To me, it’s important to find that stuff out early.”