By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
BEREA—With having to play two games in the same day, South Laurel Coach Jeff Davis was hoping was a somewhat easy game in the opener of the Peoples Bank Classic at Madison Southern against Buckhorn, so he would get the chance to rest some of his starters.
He got just that, as the Cardinals rolled over the Wildcats, 76-52.
“I’m pretty pleased with the way we played,” Davis said. “Especially with it being a 10 a.m. game.”
Ten Cardinal players scored in the win, led by Zack Jones, who scored 20 off the bench.
“Zack played within himself,” Davis said. “He shot the ball well and guarded well. That’s the key.”
From the opening tip it was evident that South Laurel was the more talented team. Buckhorn lost several of its players off last year’s squad that finished 26-6 and were runners-up in the 14th Region.
The Cardinals (3-5) raced out to a 7-0 lead behind four points from Matthew Slavey. They would continue to build on that early lead thanks to some pressure defense that forced several Wildcat turnovers.
A basket by Jones gave South a 17-7 lead with 2:27 left. He would then drain a three, followed by making two free throws, to push the lead to 22-7 at the 1:32 mark. South led after one, 26-11.
A Zac Baxter three to open the second quarter made it 29-11. Ethan Anders then scored on a short jumper, followed by a jumper from the returning Trevor Grubb. A Anders three with 4:24 left made it 36-13. Jones would hit another three to push the lead to 19, 39-20. The Cards held a 41-23 halftime lead. Grubb finished with six points.
“He still doesn’t have his legs under him,” Davis said. “But it’s good to have him back in the lineup.”
A 9-3 run to open the third gave South a 50-26 lead. By the time the quarter ended, the Cards were up, 59-35.
A three by Buckhorn’s Josh Crank cut the lead to 59-38 with 7:14 left in the game. South promptly answered with a 9-0 run to make it 68-38 with 5:52 left. By this time the starters had been on the bench for a while.
“We were able to get some young kids some playing time, which is good,” Davis said.
Baxter finished with 11 points, the only other Cardinal in double figures. Connor Hoskins led Buckhorn with 12 points.
The Cards still struggled at the free throw line, hitting 11-of-22. But they did hit five threes in the win.
Peoples Bank Classic
At Madison Southern
South Laurel 76, Buckhorn 52
South Laurel 26 15 18 17—76
Buckhorn 11 12 12 17—52
SOUTH LAUREL (76)—Jones 20, Slavey 8, Rader 2, Miller 4, T. Grubb 6, Anders 7, Holt 2, Helton 5, Holcomb 2, Hayes 2, Baxter 11.
BUCKHORN (52)—Cooper 5, Cole 9, Hoskins 12, Crank 6, Estep 8, Blair 4, Messer 3, T. Stidham 5, R. Stidham 3.