By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
For three quarters, the South Laurel Lady Cardinals struggled offensively, scoring 25 points and trailed Harlan, 28-25.
Then the offense woke up, as well as some stingy defense, as the Lady Cards outscored the Lady Green Dragons, 21-8, in the fourth quarter to post a 46-36 win in the second round of the Candy Cane Classic at South Laurel.
“I think the aggressive defense that we had played throughout the game paid off for us in the fourth quarter,” Coach Konnie Snyder said. “It took us that long to get efficient offensively.”
“Efficient” offense wasn’t the word for the first three quarters, as the Lady Cards (6-7) shot just 16.6 percent from the field, hitting 7-of-42 shots. Luckily for them, the Lady Green Dragons (6-5) were equally as cold, especially in the first half, where they shot 15.7 percent (3-of-19). South led after one, 9-6, thanks to a buzzer-beating three from Brittany Vandeventer from just inside half court. The Lady Cards would take a 17-10 lead into the lockerroom at the half.
Harlan would battle back at the start of the third quarter, opening with an 11-0 run, including a three by Kelly Cox, who was making her return to the lineup after open heart surgery. With 3:20 left in the quarter, the Lady Green Dragons now held a 21-17 lead.
Then it was the Taylor Arthur show, as the South center scored the next eight points to pull her team ahead, 25-21, with 2:38 left. Arthur finished with 17 points and blocked a couple of shots. Emily Clonce also had two blocks.
But Harlan would regain the lead, thanks to a 7-0 run to end the third and hold a 28-25 lead going into the fourth.
A free throw made it 29-25. That’s when South went on a 15-4 run, including threes from Madyson Morris and Katie Reynolds, and with 2:52 left, a four-point deficit turned into an eight-point lead, 40-32.
Harlan failed to make a field goal in the fourth quarter, as South’s defense held them to just nine attempts. All eight points came via the free throw line.
A steal and basket from Cassandra Johnson pushed the lead to 10, 42-32. While South turned the ball over 23 times, it did make 14 steals. Harlan was now forced to foul, sending the Lady Cards to the free throw line, where they again struggled. They hit just 4-of-10 over the final 1:50, and 15-of-33 for the game, but it was good enough to emerge with a 46-36 win.
“I don’t think it was anything in particular that Harlan was doing that was causing us problems,” Snyder said. “Nothing we hadn’t seen before. It was just us.”
After South’s loss to Somerset in the first game of the tournament, the coaching staff decided to make some changes, and several players saw action in the win over Harlan. At times Snyder would sub the five she had on the floor with five different players.
“We’re trying to get to a level of intensity that we haven’t had this year,” Snyder said. “That’s why more girls got more playing time. We are trying to get more aggressive.”
For the game, Harlan shot 23.8 percent, hitting 10-of-42. Tori Mitchelle led the Lady Green Dragons with eight points.
The Lady Cards played Upperman, Tn., on Saturday, and the tournament wrapped up on Sunday. South Laurel is now off until January 7 when Corbin pays the Lady Cards a visit.
Candy Cane Classic
at South Laurel
South Laurel 46, Harlan 36
South Laurel 9 8 8 21—46
Harlan 6 4 18 8—36
SOUTH LAUREL (46)—Arthur 17, Johnson 6, Vandeventer 3, Reynolds 9, Davis 1, Clonce 4, Parker 5, Baker 1.
HARLAN (36)—Mitchelle 8, Brock 7, Ledford 6, King 1, Charles 5, Cox 3, Blanchi 2, Jenkins 1.