By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Coach Konnie Snyder knew that her team put in a lot of hard work during the preseason, but she still wasn’t sure what to expect when her South Laurel Lady Cardinals played host to Middlesboro Monday night in the season opener.
“You never know what to expect on that first night,” Snyder said. “Especially the way we ended last season. That left a sour taste in our mouths. I was interested to see how the team responded.
If last season’s ending left a sour taste in Snyder’s mouth, then Monday night was nothing but sweet, as the Lady Cardinals rolled to a 70-48 win.
From the opening tip, South Laurel (1-0) set an up-tempo pace that Middlesboro (0-1) had trouble keeping up with. The Lady Cards forced their opponent into 24 turnovers. Snyder hopes her team can played at this type of tempo the entire season.
“We have good speed,” Snyder said. “Sometimes that makes it look like we are working harder. This team was built for an up-tempo pace.”
Taylor Arthur led the Lady Cardinals with 20 points, while Cassandra Johnson chipped in with 17, all in the second half as she battled foul trouble in the first half and spent most of the half on the bench.
“We were in foul trouble but that’s because we play so hard,” Snyder said.
Another key to South’s win was its 3-point shooting. The Lady Cards were 6-of-10 in the first half and 7-of-16 for the game for 44 percent. Overall, South shot 44 percent from the field, hitting 26-of-59, while Middlesboro was 11-of-41 for 26.8 percent.
South started its three brigade in the first quarter as Bailey Miller, Preslie Baker (2) and Brittany Vandeventer (2) all drained threes as the Lady Cards led after one, 22-12. Middlesboro could never recover from that opening quarter.
The second quarter belonged to Arthur, as she scored 10 of her team’s 17 points, including several off offensive rebounds. Karli Parker hit the final three of the half as South Laurel led at the break, 39-21.
Emily Clonce and Johnson got South going at the start of the third, each scoring four points to push the lead to 47-24 with 4:29 left. A turnaround jumper by Arthur made it 49-24 before Middlesboro went on a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 49-31 at the 2:27 mark.
South answered with a 6-0 run, four from Johnson, to make it 55-31. A Parker steal got the ball the Madyson Morris, who scored at the buzzer, giving the Lady Cardinals a 57-34 lead heading into the final quarter.
Johnson scored South’s first nine points of the quarter while Arthur added the final four for the 70-48 win.
Blair Green led Middlesboro with 21 points, while Anajae Stephney added 12. Middlesboro was 21-of-28 from the free throw line, while South was 5-of-6. Snyder was also able to use several players in this win. She said playing a lot of girls will depend on game situations and those who deserve to play.
South Laurel will be on the road at Harlan County Friday night.
South Laurel 70, Middlesboro 48
Middlesboro 12 9 13 14—48
South Laurel 22 17 18 13—70
MIDDLESBORO (48)—Stephney 12, Green 21, Prater 2 Hensley 4, Padgett 7, Biscardi 2.
SOUTH LAUREL (70)—Clonce 9, Baker 8, Vandeventer 6, Miller 3, Morris 2, Parker 5, Johnson 17, Arthur 20.