Gray explodes for 40 in North win

LONDON — Firmly entrenched in the shadows of all-state Peyton Broughton the past three years, North Laurel guard Brian Gray was counted on to step into a leadership role if this year’s Jaguars were to compete in the 13th Region.

Gray, a senior, has more than met expectations as North Laurel has established itself as one of the 13th Region favorites with a 25-4 record after Monday’s 99-69 win over visiting Harlan. Gray continued his recent hot streak, exploding for 40 points on 14-of-18 shooting.

“Brian has had a great year and has just been phenomenal the last couple of weeks,” North Laurel coach Brad Sizemore said. “He wasn’t ranked among the top 10 players in the region coming into the year, and we felt he was one of the best players in the region. If he keeps playing like he has lately we’ll be tough to beat.”

Gray exploded out of the gate, hitting his first six shots as the Jaguars took control early. Harlan turned the ball over seven times against the North pressure and found itself in a 28-16 hole after one period. North led by as many as 17 late in the period before Jordan Akal hit a couple of shots to cut the gap to 12.

The fast-paced game featured 15 3-pointers by North and 11 from Harlan. The Dragons struggled at times to keep up as the Jaguars often answered a Harlan basket with one of their own seconds later.

“They forced us to play that way, but it was good for us. It was a learning experience,” Harlan coach Derrick Akal said. “We’ve played a lot of good teams this year and we can see what it takes to get there. Hats off to North Laurel. They are one of the best teams in the region, if not the best.”

Sizemore said the Jaguars’ pressure helped set the tone for the game early.

“We were able to turn them over some early and got some baskets in transition,” Sizemore said. “They hurt us some in the second half with 3-pointers. They have a good young team that will get better.”

Junior point guard Adam Sizemore took over in the second quarter, hitting three shots, including two in the opening 70 seconds as North stretched its lead back to 21. Gray, Keenan Hernandez and Jack Capobianco each had two baskets in the quarter as the Jaguars took a 56-34 advantage into the break.

Jared Hawkins and Cade Barnes each had three baskets to lead Harlan in the second quarter.

Each team scored 20 points in a run-and-gun third quarter that featured three 3-pointers from Ledford and four more baskets from Gray, including three 3-pointers.

Ledford scored 18 to lead the 5-16 Dragons. Akal added 14 points.

Hernandez scored 18 while Capobianco and Sizemore contributed 13 each.

Harlan plays host to Lynn Camp on Tuesday and closes the regular season Friday at Corbin in a boys/girls doubleheader. North Laurel plays Knox Central on Friday in a showdown of two of the region’s top teams.

———

North Laurel 99, Harlan 70

HARLAN (5-16)

Jordan Akal 6-11 0-0 14, Cade Barnes 3-7 0-0 6, Jacob Wilson 3-6 0-0 7, Kilian Ledford 6-12 0-0 18, Jon Eldridge 3-7 2-3 8, Austin Adams 0-1 1-2 1, Carter Barnes 1-4 0-0 2, Dakota Shepherd 3-4 0-0 6, Jared Hawkins 3-4 0-0 8, Tyler Carmical 0-2 0-0 0, Caleb Adkins 0-0 0-0 0, Tate Bryson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 28-58 3-5 70.

NORTH LAUREL (25-4)

Adam Sizemore 5-12 0-0 13, Keenan Hernandez 3-7 2-2 18, Jack Capobianco 6-8 0-0 13, Brian Gray 14-18 5-6 40, Kaleb Osborne 3-8 0-0 8, Landon Young 3-5 7-8 11, Cole Kelley 1-3 0-0 3, Cooper Dotson 0-1 0-0 0, Noah Black 1-1 0-0 3, Nate Bruner 0-1 0-0 0, Aaron Oster 0-1 2-2 2, Trevor Wardrup 0-1 0-0 0, Jimmy Storm 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 34-67 16-18 99.

Harlan 16 18 20 16 — 70

North Laurel 28 28 20 23 — 99

3-point goals: Harlan 11-23 (Ledford 6-11, Hawkins 2-2, Akal 2-3, Wilson 1-1, Adams 0-1, Carmical 0-2, Cade Barnes 0-3), North Laurel 15-28 (Gray 7-10, Sizemore 3-7, Osborne 2-3, Black 1-1, Capobianco 1-2, Kelley 1-3, Dotson 0-1, Wardrup 0-1). Rebounds: Harlan 28 (Wilson 7, Ledford 5, Shepherd 5, Akal 3, Cade Barnes 2, Eldridge 2, Carter Barnes 1, Adams 1, Hawkins 1, Adkins 1), North Laurel 28 (Capobianco 9, Gray 6, Young 5, Hernandez 4, Sizemore 1, Osborne 1, Black 1, Bruner 1). Turnovers: Harlan 20, North Laurel 7. Fouled out: None.