GIRLS' PREP BASKETBALL: North looks to avenge regular-season loss to Marion County in Girls 5th Region Tournament quarters (03/03)

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By Chuck Jones

By CHUCK JONES cjones@thenewsenterprise.com

BARDSTOWN — Nothing helps get a team’s attention more than a loss, and that’s certainly the case for the North Hardin Lady Trojans heading into tonight’s game against Marion County.

On Feb. 12, the Lady Knights went into North Hardin’s Ron Bevars Gymnasium and knocked off the fifth-ranked Lady Trojans, 69-61.

“With our kids, I think that gets them focused,” North Hardin coach James Slaven said. “We’ve had a couple of really good days of practice.

“Once we got the draw, I think it refocused the kids,” he added. “It’s been hard. It was a tough one to lose Friday night (in the Girls’ 17th District Tournament championship against Elizabethtown). It was tough to pick them back up because we put so much in that game.”

North Hardin (24-5) gets a chance to avenge that loss tonight when the Lady Trojans play Marion County at 6 in the first round of the Girls’ 5th Region Tournament at Nelson County High School.

“It was a good game for us after the opening stretch,” Marion County coach Trent Milby said Saturday. “We made a lot of shots and they missed some that they probably normally make. But we’re not looking at that game as far as Tuesday’s concerned because Tuesday will be a whole different ball game.

“We know North is going to come out with the revenge factor. We have to be ready,” he added.

Marion County has won eight of its last nine, starting with the victory over North Hardin. The Lady Knights have won five consecutive games since a 53-45 loss at Nelson County.

“We’ve been executing offensively and have played pretty good defense down the stretch,” Milby said. “We’ve been playing pretty good, but I’m not as sure as good as E’town.”

The Lady Knights (25-6) are led by eighth-grader Makayla Epps, who scores 13.0 points a game. Freshman Breanna Elder averages 11.9 points and 4.8 rebounds a game, while eighth-grader Kyvin Goodinrodgers is right behind at 9.3 points and 6.9 rebounds a game.

“They take the ball to the rim really well,” Slaven said. “They attack the rim from every position. They rebound well for their size and they play pretty well defensively. They take advantage of your mistakes.”

North Hardin, which has won 16 of its last 18, counters with its big three – juniors Destiny Bramblett and Jennifer Smiley and sophomore RaeChaun Edwards. Edwards, a 5-foot-4 guard, is scoring 16.4 points a game followed by Bramblett, a 5-11 forward, at 15.4. Smiley, a 5-5 guard, has struggled in the postseason, but still averages 12.0 points a game

“You’re not going to stop all three,” Milby said. “I think you have to try to minimize one, hope another has an off night and just let the other one do their thing. But we have three or four girls of our own that they’ll have to pay attention to as well.”

Slaven is well aware of that. After watching the first meeting over the weekend, Slaven said his team will have to play a complete game in order to advance to Friday night’s semifinals.

“Everything,” Slaven said when asked what the Lady Trojans need to do better. “We need to protect the basketball. I don’t think we did that in the first game. We need to do a better job of rebounding. We need to attack in transition. We’ve got to score when we have the numbers. More importantly, we have to bring some intensity. Outside of the first quarter in the first game, I don’t think we played with much intensity.”

Sports writer Nathaniel Bryan contributed to this story. Chuck Jones can be reached at 505-1759