North Laurel suffers first loss on a controversial call

The North Laurel Jaguars traveled to Barren County High School on Saturday, December 10, to take on Bowling Green and came up short (70-69) in a heartbreaker that ended with a controversial call.

With the game tied at 67-67, Bowling Green was holding the ball for the final shot when Reed Sheppard leaped into the air and blocked the three-point attempt with 4 seconds remaining on the clock, but the whistle blew, and Sheppard was called for a foul. MJ Wardlow went to the line and hit all three free throws.

“Disappointed in the finish,” North Laurel coach Nate Valentine said. “I’m going to be real honest with it. We get a block there and I just watched the video on our feed. I hate to say it, but that’s a clean block. That’s what I hate about it, these guys played well enough to win and some things really, really, really went against us there late in the game. That’s part of it when you go on the road basically out of region you have to play through it.”

Sheppard led all scorers with 36 points, grabbed nine rebounds, and handed out seven assists. Ryan Davidson finished with 13 points and nine rebounds. Brody Brock scored nine points, and Kyler Elza added eight on the night.

The Jaguars were without Gavin Chadwell (out with a knee injury) and Colton Rawling (sickness) but managed to battle to the end. They got off to a solid start and held a 16-12 lead at the end of the first quarter. Bowling Green bounced back in the second quarter to outscore the Jaguars 19-16, but North Laurel held a 32-31 edge at the half.

The game went back and forth in the third quarter as the Purples outscored North Laurel 26-24 to take a 57-56 with only one quarter left to play. Wardlow led the Purples with 22 points, but the difference in the game was the play of Bowling Green’s 6’8 Mason Ritter, who finished with 16 points and hauled in 18 rebounds.

“With Gavin out and Colton out, our guys stepped up. This was tough. I knew it was going to be a tough place, to go out of region like this,” Valentine said. “I thought we played well enough to win. I’m disappointed we didn’t get it. We’re just going to learn from it and move on.”

North Laurel will travel to Louisville on Sunday, December 11, to face Imhotep and Kentucky basketball commit Justin Edwards in Freedom Hall.

“Our guys will get to play a great game in Freedom Hall,” Valentine said. “Hopefully we will have a great crowd and it will be a great experience for them, but this one stings a little bit. We will just try to get better, stick together and hopefully we will start getting some guys healthy here soon and we can make a good run at it.”

Tim Branstetter, Sports Writer for The Kentucky Daily

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