By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
If it had been scored as a full game, South Laurel would have beaten Rowan County 59-50. That margin and more came in a strong first quarter by the Cardinals. A 28-17 lead was wiped off the scoreboard at halftime with South Laurel being outscored 33-31 in the second half.
“I thought from our first scrimmage to our second scrimmage there was a lot of improvement,” South Laurel coach Jeff Davis said. “We’ve got a lot of inexperienced guys so I was real pleased how we came out tonight.”
The Cardinals were especially sharp in the first quarter with a mix of patient passing in the half court and attacking in transition.
“I thought we did a good job of making crisp passes and not forcing things like we did the last scrimmage. Tonight we were moving the ball, making that extra pass, and really took care of getting the ball where we wanted it to go instead of forcing it,” Davis said.
Five different players scored in the first quarter for North Laurel with Trevor Grubb leading the way with five points. Grubb opened the game with a three-pointer. The Cardinals made seven three-pointers on the night with five different players connecting from deep.
“If we will make the extra pass and take great shots we could be a good shooting team. If we try to force shots and take shots out of rhythm we won’t,” Davis said.
The Cardinals led 28-10 with 2:10 in the half, but would not score again. Rowan County scored seven straight points to end the second quarter. The spurt didn’t have much significance since the points were taken off the scoreboard at the half. Still Davis said it’s hard sometimes not to look at it as a full game.
“You want to say no, but you get in the game and you try to play it,” Davis said.
Both teams struggled for points in the third quarter with each managing just two field goals. Rowan County won the quarter 9-6.
“They went zone and we went zone. We were trying things and I think we got a little passive at times,” Davis said. “In the fourth quarter we went back to our man-to-man and got going a little better.”
Davis did play five or six players other than his starters. He also tried to make sure they were in some tense end-of-quarter situations to give them experience.
The tensest moments came in the final seconds. Ryne Callahan made a three-pointer to tie the score 31-31 with 40 seconds. Jerry Politte then scored inside just before the buzzer to push Rowan County ahead 33-31.
The Cardinals opened the season Tuesday and will go straight from a preseason game to a post-season type opponent. South Laurel will play at Wayne County Tuesday, followed by a road trip to Clay County for its second game.
“It’s a good challenge, both on the road so we’ll see how we measure up and how far we need to get better. “Really we are trying to prepare ourselves for our district, which is as tough as any,” Davis said. “It’s going to be a dog fight so we might as well go play somebody that can give us a challenge.”