North Laurel looking for a different result at this year’s Sweet Sixteen

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Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 4:59 PM EDT
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LONDON, Ky. (WYMT) - Of the four mountain teams making the trip to Rupp Arena for this year’s 2023 UK Healthcare Boys’ Sweet Sixteen, only one is making a repeat visit.

“We’re ready,” said senior guard and Mr. Basketball candidate Reed Sheppard. “It’s a big moment. It’s exciting. We went up and watched the girls play and just walking into Rupp and seeing them play and knowing you’re gonna be there is crazy.”

North Laurel is eyeing a longer stay in Lexington this year after falling to Pikeville in an all-mountain first-round game. This season the Jaguars have prioritized playing tough games over a perfect schedule, hoping to get the reps needed for a win.

“Starting off the season you know we’ve traveled all across the country we went down to Florida, went to Massachusetts played at Freedom Hall,” said senior forward Ryan Davidson. “We play against Top 50 ranked teams in the nation multiple games and it’s really been good for us.”

The Jaguars once again will face a tough first-round opponent in defending state champions George Rogers Clark.

“Everybody says us going last year will hopefully be a benefit to us but GRC was also there last year,” said head coach Nate Valentine. “Obviously, they won the state championship so they’ve got a really good team and they’re the defending state champs for a reason.”

Sheppard and Davidson will play their final game, or what they hope to be multiple games, of two unforgettable high school careers.

“I’ve grown up in London my whole life,” said Sheppard.” I’ve played with these kids since I was a little kid. We were in third grade going out and playing baseball, basketball, football, we played everything together. Growing up from elementary school land now high school, the fans, the community, everybody knows everybody. And then being able to play for north laurel, being able to represent this community and being able to do it with my teammates and best friends it’s something I’LL never forget”

North Laurel will play GRC at 8:30 p.m. on March 16. Tickets are still available through the KHSAA.