It turned out to be everything it was billed to be, as North Laurel managed to dethrone the Three-Time 13th Region Champions (Knox Central) in a battle for the ages. The Jaguars got off to a hot start and managed to hold off the Panthers for a 69-56 victory to earn a trip to the Sweet 16 at Rupp Arena.
North Laurel’s Reed Sheppard recorded a double-double as he poured in 37 points and dished out 11 assists on the night. Ryan Davidson added 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds, while Brody Brock finished with eight points for the game.
The Jaguars stormed out to an early lead behind the play of Sheppard and Davidson, who combined for 28 points in the first half. North Laurel held a 21-6 advantage at the end of the first quarter.
Just when it looked like the Panthers were going to have a long night, they responded by outscoring North Laurel 20-11 in the second quarter behind the play of Jevonte Turner. Turner scored 11 points in the first half, while Gavin Chadwell added eight points. Turner went on to record a double-double of his own with 25 points, 10 rebounds, and added five assists. Chadwell also recorded a double-double as he finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds for the Panthers.
Knox Central outscored North Laurel 17-15 in the third quarter, but the Jaguars led 47-43 with one quarter remaining to play. They say defense and free-throws win championships, and that showed as North Laurel forced 13 turnovers by the Panthers and went 100 percent from the charity stripe (14-14). Sheppard connected on all 10 of his free throws for the game.
North Laurel will now prepare for its trip to Rupp Arena to compete in the Sweet 16. They will face the winner of the 15th Region, Pikeville.
Tim Branstetter, Sports Writer for The Kentucky Daily