That’s what coach Konnie Snyder felt her team showed in Thursday night’s 42-34 win over Whitley County in the finals of the girls’ 50th District tournament, giving South Laurel its third straight district crown.
“We expected that kind of game from Whitley County,” Snyder said. “Especially the way they played in their win over Corbin. They came from behind against them, and they almost did against us.”
Overall, it wasn’t the prettiest of finals, with South Laurel shooting 30.9 percent, while Whitley County hit only 16.6 percent. The Lady Cards committed 23 turnovers, while the Lady Colonels turned the ball over 14 times. But they don’t hang banners for style points, just for wins.
“We’ll take it,” Snyder said.
Morgan Johnson came out strong for South Laurel, scoring seven first quarter points to help the Lady Cards overcome a 10-6 deficit and take a 13-12 lead after one, a lead they would never relinquish. She finished with 12 points, and was named National Guard Player of the Game. She saw limited action in the fourth quarter after picking up her third and fourth fouls late in the third quarter.
“She had a really good first half,” Snyder said of her junior center.
For the second straight game, Erika Burchett played a solid game for South Laurel, finishing with seven points to go along with several rebounds and blocked shots. Her play, along with that of Tish Walker in the fourth quarter, helped South Laurel maintain its lead after Johnson and Jessica Dean both went to the bench with foul trouble.
“They carried us,” Snyder said of Burchett and Walker. “And they should. That’s what teammates do for each other.”
Dean scored five points in the second quarter to help South Laurel to a 24-17 lead at the half. Whitley County came out cold in the quarter, missing its first nine shots and making only 2-of-16 from the field in the second.
Burchett came up big in the third quarter, scoring all seven of her points as the Lady Cards held a 33-25 lead going into the fourth quarter. Once again, the Lady Colonels were cold to start the quarter, again missing their first nine shots.
Dean picked up her fourth foul at the start of the fourth quarter, forcing her to the bench. Walker and Taylor Arthur scored back-to-back baskets to push the lead to 12, 37-25, with 4:05 left.
Then it was the Lady Cards turn to go cold, not scoring another basket from the field until the 1:40 mark, when Andi House score after Whitley had cut the lead to five, 37-32, when Simbree Sizemore sank a three.
Whitley again cut the lead to five, 39-34 with 50.5 seconds left. The Lady Colonels were then forced to foul. Walker sank two free throws, and Johnson hit one of two, and the Lady Cards emerged with a 42-34 win.
“Tish made a big jumper in the lane, and then those two big free throws,” Snyder said. “Those were key points.”
Snyder was pleased with the way her team handled the Lady Colonels run late in the game.
“Our kids did a good job,” Snyder said. “We stayed disciplined, and we’ve had a hard time doing that at times this season.”
With South winning its third straight district title, Snyder said it feels great every time they win.
“It feels good to see these kids get the enjoyment out of winning,” Snyder said.
The draw for the 13th Region was held Saturday, and the tournament will take place at The Arena in Corbin. South Laurel will play a district runner-up, which could include rival North Laurel.
Denis House can be reached at email@example.com.
50th District Final
South Laurel 42, Whitley County 34
Whitley Co. 12 9 8 9—34
South Laurel 13 11 9 9—42
WHITLEY COUNTY (34)—Jones 11, Blakely 4, Smith 5, Craig 1, Moses 4, Anderson 4, Sizemore 3, Leach 2.
SOUTH LAUREL (42)—Johnson 12, Dean 8, Clontz 3, Arthur 5, Burchett 7, House 2, Walker 4.
South Laurel overcomes Whitley County, 42-34, to win girls' 50th District title
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