By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
WILLIAMSBURG—To say the South Laurel-Whitley County game was ugly is putting it mildly.
The two teams combined for 43 turnovers, while South Laurel shot just 26 percent from the field in a 44-36 loss to the Colonels. At times the game turned very physical and looked like it belong in a wrestling ring instead of a high school gym.
“I thought we were going to have to pull out the ring ropes and bring Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka and Andre the Giant in,” South Laurel coach Jeff Davis joked. “Maybe we need to go back and practice with shoulder pads on.”
For the second straight game, Davis wasn’t pleased with his team’s lack of aggressiveness. The Cards (7-10, 2-2) suffered the same lack of aggression in Tuesday’s loss at Knox Central.
“We were non-aggressive in the half court,” Davis said. “We’ve got to get back to where we were aggressive and moving. We’ve got to do a better job offensively in the half court.”
While Whitley County (6-13, 1-2) had balanced scoring, the Cards had just one offensive threat on the night. Zac Baxter scored 26 of South Laurel’s 36 points, and got things started in the first quarter by hitting three straight threes for a 9-2 lead with 5:30 left. But Whitley County battled back, and trailed by just two at the end of the quarter, 11-9.
In the first meeting between these two 50th District foes, Boston Bryant wasn’t available for the Colonels, and South Laurel won, 62-48. Friday night he was in the line-up, leading Whitley with 11 points, including the final four of the first half, as Whitley took a 19-16 lead into the half, a lead it would not relinquish. The Colonels outscored South in the quarter, 10-5. The Cards would also be held to single digits in the fourth quarter with just five points.
“Bryant is a good player,” Davis said. “But we can’t be giving up single digit quarters while the other team scores 10 and 16. You can’t win basketball games like that.”
Whitley would push the lead to nine, 29-20, with 3:50 left in the third before Baxter drained a three that started an 8-2 run and cut the lead to three, 31-28, heading into the fourth quarter.
A three-point play by Baxter kept South within four, 35-31, with 5:11 left in the game, but that would be as close as the Cards would get.
Devin Rutherford scored nine for the Colonels, while Michael Powers and Matt Lawson chipped in with eight a piece. The Cards committed 23 turnovers, while Whitley had 20.
“We had a lot of stupid turnovers,” Davis said. “And we didn’t shoot free throws well.” The Cards were 4-of-10 from the charity stripe, including 3-of-7 in the fourth quarter.
“I really don’t know the answer,” Davis said. “We’ve got to be more physical offensively and less defensively. Whitley is a good team. They beat us. That’s the bottom line.”
The Cards traveled to George Rogers Clark on Saturday to take on Harrison County in the Martin Luther King Classic, and will return home Tuesday to host Corbin.
Whitley County 44, South Laurel 36
South Laurel 11 5 12 5—36
Whitley County 9 10 12 16—44
SOUTH LAUREL (36)—Baxter 26, Vandeventer 2, Slavey 3, Sanders 5.
WHITLEY COUNTY (44)—Bryant 11, Powers 8, Sasko 4, Lawson 8, D. Rutherford 9, Z. Rutherford 2, Woods 2.