LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
South Laurel knew what was at stake going into Thursday night’s game with Williamsburg.
Win and the Cardinals were the No. 1 seed in the upcoming 50th District Tournament at Corbin. It was as simple as that.
“Our season goal was to get the No. 1 seed,” South Laurel coach Jeff Davis said.
And get it they did, rolling over the Yellowjackets, 76-36.
“Now we have to prepare ourselves for the district tournament,” Davis said. His Cardinals will play Williamsburg in the first game of the tournament.
“They will be a different team,” Davis said. “They will have Skylar Griffith back, which will help them tremendously. He can shoot it and take it to the rim.”
But on this night, there was no Skylar Griffith, and the way the Cardinals played, it probably wouldn’t have made much of a difference as South Laurel put together probably its best game of the season in the 40-point rout.
“The last couple of days of practice we wanted to get a district mentality,” Davis said. “We have grown up and I’m proud of the focus and patience we showed tonight. We challenged our guys to be more patient and don’t rush things. They are taking what we are doing in practice and doing it on the floor.”
The Cards put a stamp on this game early, rushing out to a 15-2 lead behind 11 points from Zac Baxter, including three three pointers. Baxter led the Cardinals with 19 points, all coming in the first half.
“Zac has been playing at a high level and has found a nice rhythm,” Davis said. “His rebounding has carried us to new level. I told him he can’t be a one dimensional player. He proved that tonight.”
South Laurel continued to build on its lead, pushing it to 22-9 before Williamsburg went on a 6-0 run to cut the lead to 22-15. Braden Miller ended the first quarter with a three to make it a 10-point game heading into the second.
“Braden played tremendously,” Davis said. “His basketball IQ is sometimes too high for our other players. He sees the game so well.”
Miller opened the second quarter with another three. South then went on a 7-0 run to make it 25-17 with 4:42 left. Four of those points came from John Helton, who finished the game with 10.
“Big John sealed up the middle,” Davis said. “And he made some big shots.”
Another Miller three ended the run and made it 28-18. Baxter would end the half with a bucket and free throw to give South Laurel a 45-22 advantage at the half.
A 10-0 run early in the third quarter, which included two threes by Trevor Grubb, made it 55-24 with 4:50 left. Grubb would later drain another three as the Cards led 64-33 heading into the fourth quarter.
“Trevor knocked down some big shots,” Davis said. “He had been struggling shooting so it was good to see him break out of that.”
The fourth quarter saw Davis start to clear then bench, and Derek Detherage took full advantage of his playing time by scoring 10 points. Meanwhile, the South defense held Williamsburg to just three points to make the final 76-36.
“It was good to see Derek get the opportunity to play,” Davis said. “He works hard and has improved.”
The Cards were scheduled to host Clinton County Saturday then be in the road at Madison Central Tuesday night before wrapping up the regular season Friday with a boy-girl doubleheader at Rockcastle County.
South Laurel 76, Williamsburg 36
Williamsburg 15 7 11 3—36
South Laurel 25 20 19 12—76
WILLIAMSBURG (36)—Shelton 8, Lowrie 2, Poore 2, Sizemore 3, A. Griffith 12, Sulfridge 2, Sizemore 5, Harmmen 2.
SOUTH LAUREL (76)—T. Grubb 14, Baxter 19, J. Grubb 8, Helton 10, E. Anders 2, Vandeventer 2, Bra. Miller 9, Phelps 2, Detherage 10.