By Chris Parsons / Staff Writer

If there is such a thing as a moral victory, North Laurel claimed one Thursday at South Laurel High School.

Despite falling 57-53 to Pleasure Ridge Park in the semifinals of the Hometown Bank Hoopin’ It Up Holiday Classic Thursday, North Laurel coach Jim Conway said his team has nothing to hang its head about.

The Jaguars do, however, have a few things to work on in practice when you take into consideration they shot just 48 percent (14-of-29) from the free throw line for the game.

“The worst part about this is that if we hit our free throws, we probably win this thing,” Conway said. “It’s a tribute to our kids on how hard we played tonight, and if we can fix our free throw shooting problem, I think we are going to be a team to be reckoned with - if we can come out and play with this kind of intensity night in and night out.”

Conway said his team has continued to improve since the start of the season and was sure the Jaguars surprised some people in attendance.

“I told the kids there wasn’t a whole lot of people in that gym, except for me and our team, that thought we could hang in there and be in this game at the end,” Conway said. “I told my guys that they can hold their heads up, but at the same time know that it hurts, because they just played one of the better teams in the state within four points.

“Not only did we stay with them, we had several chances to maybe change the course of the game,” he added. “I am really pleased with my kids tonight for the way they battled this team.”

The two teams played even in the first quarter at 16 points apiece, but PRP was able to pull away, taking a 38-29 lead at halftime.

North Laurel rallied in the third quarter, outscoring the Panthers 11-6 in the period, closing the gap to 44-40 with one quarter left to play.

North Laurel trailed by as many as eight points in the fourth quarter, but was able to close the gap to 54-53 with 1:30 to play in the game.

PRP’s Adam Delph connected on 1-of-2 free throw attempts to push the Panthers’ lead to 55-53 with 48 seconds to play and he was then able to seal the win with a layup as PRP held on for the 57-53 win.

With the loss, North Laurel will play for third place today at 6:30 p.m. when Conway and company face Northeast at South Laurel High School.5, Smith 4, Reynolds 2, Hockman 2, Murry 2.

North Laurel (53) - Shannon 23, Seidel 11, Asher 9, Tiller 4, Trabish 3, Dalton 2, Cottongim 1, Hubbard 0.

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