By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
With 5:42 left in the first half of Tuesday night’s 50th District tussle between South Laurel and visiting Williamsburg, the Cardinals were comfortably in front with a 17-5 lead.
But in 50th District basketball no lead is ever comfortable enough. The Cards withstood several second half runs to escape the Yellowjackets, 57-47.
South Laurel (6-8, 2-1) never trailed in the contest, and there was only one tie at 2-2. And while it looked early like a blowout might be in store for the Yellowjackets, they had other plans; twice cutting the lead down to four twice in the third quarter (35-31 and 37-33) but that would be as close as they would get.
“We battled back to get it close, but then we forgot to rebound,” Williamsburg coach Patrick Robinson said. “We gave them 2 or 3 chances to score. You can’t do that against a good team.”
“Our message all week was that this is a pretty good team,” South Laurel coach Jeff Davis said. “It’s a district game and you’ve got to be ready to play.”
With Zac Baxter picking up two fouls in the first quarter, thus forcing him to the bench for the remainder of the half, it was Matthew Slavey who picked up the scoring for South Laurel, scoring nine of the Cardinals 24 first half points. He would finish as South’s leading scorer with 17.
Once the lead grew to 17-5, Williamsburg (3-8, 0-2) woke up and started to chip into the Cardinal lead. A jumper by Corey Shelton with 1:20 left cut the lead to eight, 19-11. But a basket and free throw by Tyler Vandeventer, and a bucket from Austin Rader, and South’s lead was again at double digits, 24-13, at the half
“Our defense saved us in the first half,” Davis said. “Our offense was out of sync. The guys were not moving. I don’t know if it was because we were coming off the North Laurel game, but we’ve gotta be better than this.”
An 8-2 run to open the third quarter helped Williamsburg draw to within five, 26-21, at the 5:33 mark. South answered with a 5-2 run, to push its lead back to eight, 31-23.
A three by Jordan Osborne, then a nice move in the lane for another basket drew a foul on Slavey. When Osborne completed the three-point play, the lead was at four, 35-31.
Twice late in the quarter the Cards were able to break Williamsburg’s full court press, and both times it resulted in an easy bucket for Vandeventer. Davis was pleased with Vandeventer’s play coming off the bench.
“It was good for Tyler to play in this game,” Davis said. “They didn’t have a post player and V did a good job for us with rebounds, strong finishes and he defended well.”
The Cards took a 39-33 advantage into the fourth quarter. Threes by Jared Grubb and Slavey, and another lay-up from Vandeventer, and the lead was back up to 12, 47-35, with 5:53 left. Osborne then scored on a lay-up, followed by a three, to cut the lead to seven, 47-40. Two baskets by Eric Poore, and with 3:05 left, Williamsburg was back within striking distance at five, 49-44.
Baxter then drained a three which started an 8-3 run over the final 2:15 and South Laurel emerge victorious, 57-47.
Osborne led Williamsburg with 20 points, while Shelton added 11 and Dalton Sizemore, 10.
In the first half, the Cards used a variety of defenses, starting with a 2-2-1, the moving to man-to-man, full court press and finally a zone. Davis found that the man-to-man seemed to work best against the Yellowjackets.
“In the second half we went straight man to try and create havoc and make them rush their shots,” Davis said.
For the game, South Laurel hit 46 percent from the field (23-of-50) and 77 percent from the free throw line (7-of-9). Williamsburg was 19-of-46 from the field for 41 percent and 7-of-11 from the charity stripe for 63 percent. This win was only the second time this season that South Laurel has won back-to-back games.
The Cardinals will travel to Bell County tonight.
South Laurel 57, Williamsburg 47
Williamsburg 5 8 20 14—47
South Laurel 11 13 15 18—57
WILLIAMSBURG (47)—Shelton 11, Poore 4, Osborne 20, Sizemore 10, Dunn 2.
SOUTH LAUREL (57)—Slavey 17, Rader 8, T. Grubb 5, Baxter 7, Schaser 2, Vandeventer 9, Miller 2, Jones 4, J. Grubb 3.