By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
BEREA—It might not have been the prettiest of wins, but South Laurel coach Konnie Snyder will take it.
The South Laurel Lady Cardinals opened play in the 19th annual Berea Lady Pirate Holiday Classic Friday night with a 55-51 win over Bryan Station. The game saw the Lady Cards shoot just 25.5 percent from the field and turn the ball over 17 times.
“I’ll take it,” Snyder said. “We’ve been on the losing end of some pretty games this year. We needed this win.”
The win also snapped a 4-game losing streak for the Lady Cardinals.
While they may have struggled from the field, the Lady Cards made up for that at the free throw line, hitting 25-of-38, including 7-of-8 over the final 2:15 of the game.
“We stepped up and made some key free throws when we needed to,” Snyder said.
Bryan Station (2-4) featured Butler University signee Serena Sandusky, who came into the game averaging 14 points per game. But she was held to just seven on this night.
The Lady Defenders took control of the game midway through the first quarter, using a 7-0 run to take a one point lead (7-6) and turn it into eight, 14-6, with 3:17 left. Bryan Station led after one, 20-13.
In fact, the Lady Defenders held the lead for the majority of the game, but South Laurel (2-4) always kept within striking distance thanks in part to two threes by Karli Parker in the first half. Brittany Vandeventer came off the bench to score the last five Lady Cardinal points of the first half, but Bryan Station still led, 32-30.
“I thought V (Vandeventer) played well, and Karli had a good shooting night,” Snyder said. “Karli also ran our offense better tonight. We got some big buckets when we needed them.”
The Lady Defenders were able to hold off South Laurel in the third quarter to maintain its lead heading into the fourth. The Lady Cards did tied the game, 37-73, with 3:49 left, but two baskets by Labianca Frazier and a three from Lakeysha Stennis gave the Lady Defenders a 44-38 lead with 2:17 left.
A Taylor Arthur basket (off an assist from Cassandra Johnson), followed by Johnson sinking two free throws, and the lead was just two, 44-42, heading into the fourth quarter.
Arthur would finish with 18, while Johnson added 11. Parker chipped in with 13. Snyder was happy to see three players win double figures.
“C.J. had an excellent game,” Snyder said of Johnson’s play. “When C.J. plays better and Emily (Clonce) plays better, especially if we can have them do that as a combo, that makes our whole team a lot better.”
A three by Parker to open the fourth gave South a 45-44 lead. Johnson then hit 1-of-2 free throws, then scored with 5:55 left, to give the Lady Cards a 48-46 advantage.
Bryan Station would go on a 5-0 run to regain the lead, 51-48, with 4:04 left. Those would be the last points the Lady Defenders would score.
Two Parker free throws brought South back to within one, 51-50. Bryan Station would then miss two attempts, and a free throw, but with 49.6 seconds left, they still led, 51-50.
South then go the ball inside to Arthur, who was fouled by Deshante Clay. Arthur sank both free throws to give South a 52-51 lead. Clay would miss on the other end, and Johnson would be fouled. She made both free throws to up the lead to 54-51 with 11.7 seconds left.
Sandusky left fly a three from the top of the arch that rimmed off, and Arthur was there for the rebound. She was fouled and made 1-of-2 free throws to make the final, 55-51.
“We had some big rebounds and we were diving for loose balls,” Snyder said. “And we made those free throws when we needed them.”
The Lady Cards wrapped up play in the tournament over the weekend and will host Knox Central Tuesday.
Berea Lady Pirate Holiday Classic
South Laurel 55, Bryan Station 51
South Laurel 13 17 12 13—55
Bryan Station 20 12 12 7—51
SOUTH LAUREL (55)—Arthur 18, Johnson 11, Parker 13, Baker 5, Clonce 3, Vandeventer 5.
BRYAN STATION (51)—Clay 10, Stennis 9, Gill 7, Crumbie 4, Sandusky 7, Frazier 12, Cozart 2.