MAKING A STATEMENT: North Laurel wins the battle between region's top ranked teams, beating Bell County, 66-42

Les Dixon, The Sentinel Echo, London, Ky.
·3 min read

Mar. 5—LOG MOUNTAIN — Many thought Tuesday's battle between the two top-ranked teams in the 13th Region would go down to the wire.

Boy, were they wrong.

Eddie Mahan's North Laurel Lady Jaguars solidifies their spot as the region's top team by going on the road to hand No. 2 Bell County its worse loss at home in more than two years after upending the Lady Bobcats, 66-42.

"Tonight was a good example of how a season prepares you," Mahan said. "We came out strong and got up 22-11 early in the first quarter before the fouls began to play a toll on us. We had three starters out at the beginning of the second quarter and still extended our lead. The girls kept their composure and was able to still execute the way our starters normally would. We for sure did not play our best but that is what good teams do, they find a way to win when things aren't really going your way.

"We played deep in the the first half, playing all of our kids that dressed," he added. "Each player came in and played their role well and helped extend the lead. It just shows the depth of our team. I know most people know I have the two best players in the region in Emily Sizemore and Hailee Valentine but they are not the only talent this team has. Bella Sizemore did a great job with another double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. She seems to rise to the occasion every time our team needs her. Brooke Nichelson had 13 points and once again played unbelievable defense. I think officials are often anticipating a foul on her that doesn't happen with her athleticism and ability on defense. Tonight showed that we have even more than though when we need it."

North Laurel (17-4) came out laser-focused, jumping out to a 22-15 lead in the first quarter and never looking back while improving to a perfect 7-0 against regional competition.

Sisters Emily and Bell Sizemore each scored 14 points apiece in the win while Hailee Valentine and Brooke Nichelson each scored 13 points apiece. Chloe McKnight added nine points while Saige McClure finished with three points.

The Lady Jaguars continues to build to their lead through the final three quarters while playing lockdown defense. North Laurel limited Bell County to only nine points in each of the second, third and fourth quarters.

The Lady Jaguars led 34-24 at halftime and 51-33 entering the fourth quarter before putting the final touches on the 24-point victory.

"Bell County is one of the best-coached teams in the region year in and out," Mahan said. "Coach (David) Teague always has his teams ready. They are deserving of being a highly-ranked team in our region and I think most teams will not want to see them in the postseason."

North Laurel 66, Bell County 42

North Laurel 22 12 17 15 66

Bell County 15 9 9 9 42

North Laurel (66) — Valentine 13, B. Sizemore 14, Nichelson 13, E. Sizemore 14, McKnight 9, McClure 3.

Bell County (42) — McQueen 18, Johnson 4, Meyers 7, Cornett 3, Kidwell 2, Ausmus 7, Gambrell 1.