LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
RICHMOND—Oh so close.
With 1:59 left in Tuesday night’s game with defending state champion Madison Central, the South Laurel Cardinals trailed by one, 62-61.
But two straight turnovers to go along with the fifth foul on Zac Baxter turned into three points for the Indians to up the lead to 65-61. From there Madison Central held on for the 69-66 win.
The Cardinals led 18-17 after one and 37-29 at the half. It was the third quarter that swung the momentum in Madison Central’s favor, where the Indians outscored South Laurel (13-14) 25-14 to take a 54-51 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
“We had a bad third quarter,” South Laurel coach Jeff Davis said. “We got a little rushed and they (Madison Central) got back in the game.”
Baxter picked up two quick fouls and found himself on the bench with six minutes to go in the first quarter. He then picked up his third foul with 3:51 left in the third during a 7-0 Madison Central run that turned a five-point South Laurel lead (44-39) into a two point Madison Central advantage (46-44) after Kirkland Humphrey drained a three at the 3:21 mark.
“I thought we did a good job with Zac in foul trouble,” Davis said. “Jared (Grubb) had a good game. It was good that he got out of his little slump tonight.” Grubb finished with 21 points.
Baxter came back in late in the third quarter and hit a three at the 1:39 mark to give South a 51-49 advantage. But the Indians ended the quarter with a 5-0 run for a 54-51 lead.
A Grubb three pulled South to within two, 56-54, early in the fourth. The Cards would stay close but could never get over the hump. Two free by Isaiah Johnson pushed the lead to seven, 68-61, before Brennan Miller scored to cut the lead to five, 68-63. After a Central free throw made it 69-63, Trevor Grubb drained a three with 1.1 seconds left to cut the lead to 69-66, but there wasn’t enough time for the Cards to complete their comeback.
“It came down to rebounding,” Davis said. “They did a good job with that. And our shot selection could have been better. Their length and athleticism allowed them to block shots that we normally don’t get blocked.”
Central (19-9) held a 12-8 lead in the first before Ethan Anders made a three with 2:42 left to cut the lead to one. Braden Miller then drove to the basket for a score and a 13-12 lead. The Indians would score the next five points for a 17-13 lead before Jared Grubb scored the next five points, including a three with 2.2 seconds left following a Madison Central turnover for an 18-17 lead after one.
The second quarter saw South Laurel continue to build on its lead. A 7-4 run to open the quarter made it 25-21. After an Anders’ bucket made it 28-22, Vince Holcomb tipped in an Anders miss and with 4:05 left in the half, the lead was now eight, 30-22. A three just before the half by Jared Grubb gave the Cardinals a 37-29 lead heading into the locker-room.
“Overall I can’t complain with our effort and the way we played,” Davis said. “We played with effort and fight.”
The Cardinals will wrap up the regular season tonight when they travel to Rockcastle County for a girl-boy doubleheader.
Madison Central 69, South Laurel 66
South Laurel 18 19 14 15—66
Madison Central 17 12 25 15—69
SOUTH LAUREL (66)—T. Grubb 7, Bre. Miller 4, Baxter 16, J. Grubb 21, Helton 4, Holcomb 6, E. Anders 5, Bra. Miller 3.
MADISON CENTRAL (69)—Johnson 8, George 20, Humphrey 5, Jones 15, Thomas 16, Alexander 5.