LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
It’s been a journey of small steps for the South Laurel Lady Cardinals this season.
Monday night another step was taken, albeit a much larger step. Even though they lost to visiting Clay County, 59-56, Coach Konnie Snyder was pleased with the determination her young squad showed.
“We had every opportunity to win this game,” Snyder said. “The kids kept battling and even cut it to one. We talked a whole lot about wanting to improve. We felt like we had been taking small steps, and tonight was another step forward.”
On paper it shouldn’t have been a close game. Clay County came into the game sporting a 16-10 record and winners of seven straight. South Laurel, on the other hand, was 7-18 and just broke a five-game losing streak with a win over Barbourville on Saturday. Plus, the Lady Cards would be without Shelby Davis (lost for the season with an MCL injury) and Brittany Vandeventer, who was unavailable for the game.
“We are going to have to get used to not having Shelby,” Snyder said. “Hopefully Brittany will be back in a few days.”
Early on it didn’t look like it would be much of a contest with the Lady Tigers leading 20-10 after one quarter of action. Taylor Cromer tried to keep South Laurel close, scoring eight of South’s 10 first quarter points, including two three pointers.
Meanwhile Clay County was going inside to its two big girls, Sara Robinson and Courtney Woods. Both girls scored four points in the first quarter, while Ajaycia Cotton scored seven from the outside.
“It took us a few minutes to make adjustments and understand how to guard their back line,” Snyder said.
Clay County would maintain its dominance in the second quarter, but South Laurel continued to chip away at the lead behind four points from both Preslie Baker and Katie Reynolds. Baker would lead South with 16 points while Reynolds tossed in 14. The Lady Tigers led at the half, 31-24.
The comeback continued in the third quarter as South opened with a 7-3 run, and when Cromer scored at the 6:30 mark, the lead was down to three, 34-31. But a three by Kelli Roberts ended the run and pushed the lead back to six, 37-31. Clay led 45-39 heading into the fourth quarter.
But the Lady Cards refused to go away. A Bailey Miller three cut the lead to three, 47-44, with 6:43 left. Following a Cotton three, Reynolds and Baker both scored, and with 5:36 remaining, the lead was down to two, 50-48.
Clay was leading 55-52 when Baker was fouled with 32 seconds left. She sank both free throws to cut the lead to one, 55-54, but Clay answered by going 4-for-4 over the final 28 seconds from the free throw line to seal the 59-56 win. Miller missed on a game-tying three as the buzzer sounded.
“We made our free throws tonight, which was a bonus for us,” Snyder said. “Our younger players stepped up and grew up tonight.”
The Lady Cards will wrap-up the regular season Friday night with a girl-boy doubleheader at Rockcastle County.
Clay County 59, South Laurel 56
Clay County 20 11 14 14—59
South Laurel 10 14 15 17—56
CLAY COUNTY (59)—Roberts 12, Cotton 20, Robinson 13, C. Woods 14.
SOUTH LAUREL (56)—Miller 6, Baker 16, Reynolds 14, Hacker 2, Phelps 2, Cromer 12, Anders 2, Rollins 2.