The Madison Southern girls basketball team clawed back from a big deficit in the first quarter, but could not top North Laurel in a 52-49 loss on Tuesday at home.
It was the Lady Eagles' (12-10) second-straight loss to the Lady Jags (21-3) after North Laurel also took a 69-60 win in the team's previous matchup on Jan. 20 in London.
"It's a frustrating one," Southern coach Allie Turley said after the game. "We get down by 15 in the first quarter and we fight back tooth and nail and we get right back in the mix of it. We just need to work on the fundamentals and stay focused down the stretch."
Samantha Cornelison finished the game with 21 points, including five three-pointers.
North Laurel took control early and raced out in front thanks to a 13-2 run.
The Lady Jags led 17-10 after the first quarter after a three-pointer from Sunni Walters was able to chip North Laurel's lead to below double digits.
In the second quarter, Southern answered.
The Lady Eagles blasted the Lady Jags with an 11-0 run to start the second quarter.
Cornelison got Southern moving with a three-pointer and Walters followed with a three-point play to get the Lady Eagles back within one point, 17-16, with 6:34 left till halftime.
Another three from Cornelison gave Southern its first lead of the night and minutes later Reece Estep got a layup to cap the run and make it 21-17 with 3:42 left in the second quarter.
"I tell them a lot that when they decide to play, they can play with whoever… We just need to put forth that effort and intensity that we've been preaching all year and we can be right there with anyone in the game. It's that type of intensity that we need to have for the entire game," Turley said of the Lady Eagles strong second quarter start.
However, a couple of trips to the foul line helped the Lady Jags tie the game up 24-24 at halftime.
Southern was able to limit North Laurel to just seven points in the second quarter, but made just half of their free throws at the end of the quarter (3-of-6) to give the Lady Jags a chance to close the gap.
A three-pointer from Walters gave the Lady Eagles back the lead 28-24, but once again, North Laurel refused to back down.
The Lady Jags closed out the third quarter on an 8-0 run to take a 41-34 lead.
Back-to-back three-pointers from Cornelison helped the Lady Eagles chip away at the Lady Jags' lead in the fourth quarter.
Southern trailed by five points 46-41 with 2:31 left to play.
Two free throws from Reece Estep and another three from Cornelison tied the game up 46-46 with 59 seconds left on the clock.
Southern would not get any closer, however, as North Laurel was 6-of-6 at the foul line in the last seconds of the game to seal the win.
Walters and Estep finished the game with nine points each. Aleigh Richardson had five points and Skylar Sparks had three points. Macie Daniels and Morgan Flannery chipped in a point each.
The Lady Eagles were 13-of-25 from the free throw line on Tuesday.
"Free throws win ball games and that was a big difference in this ballgame," Turley acknowledged.
"Down the stretch, it was the attention to detail and the little stuff we talk about that we have to start really focusing on and having that mental clock and knowing the game situation. It's something that will come with time and we will continue to get better."
Southern will face Southwestern next on Thursday in Somerset.