(LONDON, Ky.) – It’s the premier matchup that everyone in the 13th region wanted to see, and it did not disappoint. In front of a packed house at North Laurel, Clay County (12-5) defeated North Laurel (11-4) 75-73 on the heels of an Evan Langdon buzzer beater. “We played with a chip on our shoulder,” said Tiger Coach Glenn Gray. “We got up and refused to quit. I told my guys we can’t back down.”
The two heavyweights went blow-for-blow early on, as the supreme talent on hand was on full display. With each Clay basket, Reed Sheppard or Ryan Davidson would seemingly respond with one of their own. The contest was neck and neck throughout, as North Laurel would lead 20-19 at the end of the first quarter.
Connor Farmer was a game time decision, as the stomach flu bug had bitten him hard. He fought through and had a gutsy 7-point performance. Connor Robinson would lead the Tigers with a strong 26-point effort, while Evan Langdon had another double-double evening with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Jacob Curry shot the ball extremely well, tallying 21 points. Jakob Begley would pour in a deep three pointer while playing stellar defense, forcing a handful of turnovers as well.
North Laurel would retain their lead going into halftime, up 38-35 as a turnover on an inbounds game them a buzzer-beater bucket for the insurance heading into the locker room. Clay County slowed down Sheppard and Davidson in the 2nd, but still couldn’t totally contain them. North Laurel is stocked to the brim with size and speed, as senior Cole Kelley jumped on the Tigers for four points and key rebounds in the 2nd period as well.
Coming out of halftime, things remained back and forth. Clay would outscore North Laurel 20-19 in the 3rd, still down by two 57-55 to head into the fourth. Robinson would open the 4th period up with a quick basket to tie things up, setting the tone for what would be a wild finish. An overturned jump ball converted into a foul would send the Tiger fanbase into a frenzy, as it slammed the brakes on a Clay County 5-point run when the momentum was in the Tigers favor.
Sheppard would slice down the court for a quick lay in, bringing things within two at 65-63 with 3:22 remaining. Robinson would immediately respond with a bucket while being fouled, making the free throw for a three-point play. A key moment occurred at the 1:46 mark, as Ryan Davidson would foul out, giving Clay an advantage in the low post. The Tigers would ultimately use it to their advantage, as Evan Langdon would score four crucial points in the final minute, including his buzzer beater shot as time expired to edge the Jaguars for the win.
Coach Glenn Gray was ecstatic after the game, all smiles and proud of his team. “We’ve been on a big stage all season long,” said Gray. “This was the most determination we’ve had all year. They made some huge shots, they’re gritty and well coached. I think we responded well, but let me tell you something, we have a great ball club and I really like my team.”
Connor Robinson – 26; Jacob Curry – 21; Evan Langdon – 16; Connor Farmer – 7; Jakob Begley – 3; Tate Farmer – 2.