By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
In the battle of Cardinals Monday night, it was all Wayne County.
Coach Rodney Woods’ team drained nine three pointers to spoil South Laurel’s season opener, 73-57.
South Laurel (0-1) had a dismal shooting night, especially in the first half, where the Cards hit just 6-of-28 shots for 22.4 percent. That cold shooting helped Wayne County to a 30-15 halftime lead.
“We just couldn’t get anything to fall,” South Laurel coach Jeff Davis said. “Then it got in our heads and we got frustrated. We didn’t give ourselves a chance in the first half.”
Wayne County (1-0) didn’t have any problems getting baskets to fall, shooting 46 percent for the game, hitting 23-of-50, including those nine three pointers, while South hit just two. Wayne placed four players in double figures, led by Trey Blevins, who scored 17.
“Blevins is very good,” Davis said. “He handles their offense the way their coach wants him to. We didn’t do a good job on him.”
Jason Perkins added 14, Corey Stearns had 13, and Peyton Woods rounded out the double digit scoring with 12.
Blake Sanders made his return to the South Laurel lineup, leading the Cards with 17 points, the only South player in double figures. His opening layup gave South its only lead of the game at 2-0.
“It’s good to have Blake back,” Davis said. “He’s still trying to knock off the rust.”
A 9-0 run gave Wayne a 9-2 lead and forced Davis to call a time out. South did cut the lead to 12-8 with 1:56 left, but that would be as close as they would get. Blevins drained two threes in the quarter, and Woods added another for a 17-8 lead.
The shooting woes continued in the second quarter, where South managed only seven points, and trailed at half, 30-15.
Playing catch-up against a talented team like Wayne County isn’t easy as the Cardinals found out. Every time South would looked to make a run, Wayne would nail another three to kill any kind of rally.
“We would cut into the lead and they would make a three, which put a dagger in us,” Davis said. South trailed after three, 49-32.
The lead grew to 57-32 before South went on a 12-2 run, cutting the margin to 15, 59-44, with 3:59 left. A three from Trevor Grubb ignited the run and gave the Cardinals a second life.
South managed to cut the lead to 11, 66-55, with 1:39 left, thanks to a spark from Zack Jones, who had five points in less than a minute. But the Cards were forced to foul over the final minute and a half of the game, and Wayne County made 7-of-8 from the free throw line to secure the 73-57 win.
Both teams shot well from the charity stripe. South was 19-of-23 for 82.6 percent, while Wayne hit 17-of-22 for 77.2 percent. From the field, South was a frigid 17-of-59 for 28.8 percent compared to Wayne’s 23-of-50 for 46 percent.
“We didn’t shoot the ball well,” Davis said. “That’s my fault. We had spent a lot of time on defense and rebounding during the preseason. Overall our offense got frustrated and took bad shots.”
The Cardinals will host Tates Creek Saturday for a 3 p.m. game, then travel to Thomas More College for the 11th annual Bluegrass-Buckeye Charity Classic on Sunday, where they will face Purcell-Marian at 3 p.m.
Wayne County 73, South Laurel 57
Wayne County 17 13 21 22—73
South Laurel 8 7 17 25—57
WAYNE COUNTY (73)—P. Woods 12, Perkins 14, Blevins 17, Gehring 1, Stearns 13, L. Woods 7, Shelton 9.
SOUTH LAUREL (57)—Sanders 17, Slavey 7, Grubb 8, Baxter 7, Schaser 2, Jones 7, Anders 3, Vandeventer 6.