HC Falls to North Laurel in 13th Region Opener

Published 5:33 am Sunday, March 6, 2022

CORBIN — North Laurel has remained perfect against the 13th Region this season, improving to 12-0 including Monday’s 13th Region Tournament opening over Harlan County 69-40.
Senior guard Hailee Valentine powered the 24-5 Lady Jaguars with 21 points. Junior guard Emily Sizemore tossed in 18 points and 21 boards as North Laurel held a 45-31 rebounding advantage.
“When your point guard is having to carry the load with 21 rebounds, that’s a lot,” said North Laurel coach Eddie Mahan. “I expect our team to do an overall better job as a team rebounding, but right now it’s about survive and advance, and we did that against a very well-coached and much improved Harlan County team. I’ve always had the utmost respect for (Harlan County) coach (Anthony) Nolan. I think he’s one of the best coaches in the region, and he prepares his team extremely well. I know he’s had a lot going on, but he still had his team ready tonight. I thought they gave us a battle.”
Brooke Nichelson scored nine and Bella Sizemore added eight for the Lady Jaguars.
Harlan County was led in scoring by sophomore guard Ella Karst with 19 points.
North Laurel took a 22-9 advantage after one quarter and led 30-19 at halftime.
The Lady Jaguars used a 20-10 scoring outburst in the third period to stretch the lead to 50-29.
North Laurel outscored the Lady Bears 19-11 in the final period.
“We had good starts in both halves, but at the end of the day we didn’t put four quarters together,” said North Laurel coach Eddie Mahan. “We jumped out to a 22-9 lead, but the whole game was kind of a lull for us. They were patient in the second quarter and got some easy shots after we exerted so much energy in the first quarter.”
Harlan County Coach Anthony Nolan, who completed his eighth season with the Lady Bears, said, “They have so many weapons. A team like North Laurel will expose you if you have breakdowns.”
Harlan County finished the 2020-2021 season with an 11-13 record and probably surprised many people in closing the season with a 20-12 mark.
“I’m extremely proud of the growth of this team from the beginning to the end of the season,” said Nolan. I can see us being a realistic threat next year if we pick up where we left off. I think we have the potential to be better next year, but we have to go to work and refine some things in the offseason.”
Corbin defeated Knox Central 62-46 in Monday’s first game.
North Laurel was scheduled to play Corbin (23-6) on Friday in the regional semifinals. South Laurel (23-8) faced Jackson County (22-9) in the other game.
The championship was slated for Saturday at 7 at the Corbin Arena.

Ella Karst 7-21 3-5 19, Taytum Griffin 0-6 0-0 0, Hailey Austin 2-2 1-2 5, Jaylin Smith 3-10 0-0 6, Taylor Lunsford 0-4 4-10 4, Kylie Jones 1-5 0-0 3, Paige Phillips 0-0 1-2 1, Cheyenne Rhymer 1-1 0-0 2, Maddi Middleton 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 14-51 9-19 40.
Emily Sizemore 6-16 6-6 18, Hailee Valentine 7-15 3-4 21, Bella Sizemore 3-8 2-2 8, Brooke Nichelson 4-11 0-0 9, Chloe McKnight 3-8 0-0 6, Jaelyn Black 1-1 0-0 2, Gracie McKnight 1-3 0-0 2, Marielle Claybrook 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 26-64 11-12 69.

HCHS 9 10 10 11 — 40
NLHS 22 8 20 19 — 69
3-point goals: Harlan County 3-8 (Karst 2-3, Jones 1-3, Griffin 0-1, Austin 0-1), North Laurel 6-21 (Valentine 4-7, G. McKnight 1-3, Nichelson 1-5, E. Sizemore 0-2, B Sizemore 0-4).
Rebounds: Harlan County 31 (Lunsford 7, Smith 6, Phillips 6, Griffin 5, Karst 3, Austin 1, Preston 1, Fields 1, Rhymer 1), North Laurel 45 (E. Sizemore 21, C. McKnight 14, Nichelson 4, Valentine 2, G. McKnight 2, Black 1, Claybrook 1).
Assists; Harlan County 2 (Karst 1, Griffin 1), North Laurel 19 (Nichelson 6, Valentine 4).
Turnovers: Harlan County 14, North Laurel 12.
Sports contributor Paul Lunsford wrote this story for the Harlan Enterprise.