No. 1 North Laurel advances in the Girls’ Mountain Classic Semifinal, beating Knott Central 74-54

Lady Jaguars continue a four game winning streak after losing to the the second ranked team in the state, Sacred Heart on January 23rd.
North Laurel rolls to Mountain Classic championship against Knott Central
Published: Feb. 5, 2021 at 7:22 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 5, 2021 at 11:45 PM EST
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HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - The North Laurel Lady Jaguars, who re ranked first in the Girls’ Alice Lloyd College Mountain Top 10, defeated the Knott Central Lady Patriots 74-54, in Friday’s semifinal of the Food City Mountain Basketball Classic Presented by your local Kentucky Farm Bureau Agents and sponsored by ARH.

Both teams played in their first game of the tournament Friday. North Laurel had a first round bye as a product of being the tournaments top-seed. Knott Central earned a win after Owsely County was forced to forfeit because of COVID-19 Protocol.

North Laurel controlled the game from the start leading 24-9 at the end of the first quarter. Chole McKnight lead the Lady Jags with 12 of those points in that opening quarter and poured in six more to close out the half as her team led 43-19.

“I feel like my team gave me really good passes and that led me to getting opened, and I mainly just tried to post up,” said the Freshman who finished the game with 20 points.

A start Head Coach Eddie Mahan was happy with.

“First half I was really happy,” said coach. “I thought we came out, we were focused, we had our game plan. The third quarter we came out in cruise control, not exactly the way I wanted to see a championship type team, a team that has high expectations in post season play this year, reacting in a tight game.”

Knott Central was able to use the third quarter to mount a run in the second half to chip away, getting with in 13 points.

“The second half we cam out and made a few shots,” said Jeff HoneyCutt, Knott Central’s Head Coach. I think we cut it to 13 or 14 one time. I know like that sounds like a lot but they had a big lead.”

Keara Mullins led Knott Central with 19 points, while Abby Maggard had 13.

“When ever we work it around as a team you can usually get the wide open shots and if you rebound that is what opens up shots,” said Mullins.

It is a great opportunity to play in this tournament,” said Maggard. “I just stay positive and do what I need to do for my team.”

Junior Hailee Valentine led all scores with 23 points. Valentine is one of just two Juniors on a team that consists of six eighth graders and four freshman. Despite being so young, The Lady Jags are currently favored to win the 13 region, thanks to their chemistry on the court.

“We just push in transition and that is where I got a lot of my points,” said Valentine. “Em gave me some good passes. Chloe was pushing people out under the goal.”

North Laurel is 11-2 on the season and currently on a four game winning streak after losing to the the second ranked team in the state, Sacred Heart on January 23rd.

North Laurel will be back on Sunday to play for the WYMT Food City Mountain Basketball Classic title against the winner of Martin County and Floyd Central at noon.

Knott Central has a quick turn around Saturday morning with a 10 a.m. tip-off against the loser of Friday’s second semifinal game between the Lady Cardinals or the Lady Jaguars.

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