By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
With the score tied 32-32 and under two minutes to play, the holiday spirit took control of South Laurel. The suddenly charitable Lady Cardinals turned the ball over on three straight possessions, allowing Somerset to claim a 40-34 win in the Candy Cane Classic.
“It’s just a lack of concentration more than anything I think,” South Laurel coach Konnie Snyder said.
For the Lady Cardinals, it was a Scrooge-like ending to a competitive game that featured one tie and four lead changes in the fourth quarter.
“We didn’t hit a lot of shots in the first half, or even the second half. We got some open looks and air-balled threes. That’s the worst I have seen us shoot in a long time, but we were able to fight through it and get some easy baskets at the end,” Somerset coach Erin Walker said.
The Briar Jumpers trailed by seven points late in the first half. With little working on offense, they were staying close with transition layups and put backs.
“Actually this is probably the best we’ve rebounded offensively all year. It’s something we have been harping on,” Walker said.
Kaitlin Johnson and Miranda Mills scored on rebounds early in the second quarter to give the Briar Jumpers a 13-10 lead. It would be almost six minutes before they scored again. South Laurel began to show an advantage inside with Taylor Arthur and Katie Reynolds to build a 20-13 lead, the largest of the game.
“(Arthur) is a good player and our game plan going in was to try to keep the ball away from her,” Walker said.
Another South Laurel gift, a turnover with 11 seconds in half, allowed Somerset to make it 20-15 at the break. The rally carried over to the second half.
“We didn’t have any energy tonight,” Snyder said. “Let’s just leave it at that.”
Somerset took the lead quickly in the third quarter. After a steal and layup by Mills, Virginia Scott sank a three. Mills followed with a three-pointer for a 23-20 advantage.
“We knew coming in they had some girls that could shoot the three and we discussed that,” Snyder said.
It looked like a game that would go to the final horn, or beyond, before the Lady Cardinals turnovers did them in.
“It wasn’t the defense at the end, it was the offense. We didn’t execute at the end. We didn’t get the ball where we needed to get it,” Snyder said.
The shot that sealed the game came from Scott with 41 seconds. After a Lady Cardinals’ turnover, Scott buried a three-pointer from the top of the key for a 36-32 lead.
“That was a drawn up play. We didn’t know if the three would be there. It has two or three different looks,” Walker said. “If she had it, we told her to take it.”
Cassandra Johnson scored inside for South Laurel with 27 seconds, but Somerset got those points back quickly on a run out layup by Mills. The Lady Cardinals then missed three shots before Bethany Edwards sank two free throws for the final margin.
“We didn’t execute at the end. We didn’t play very well,” Snyder said. “We had problems with just standing tonight in everything we did.”
Candy Can Classic
at South Laurel
Somerset 40, South Laurel 34
Somerset 9 6 10 15—40
South Laurel 10 10 4 10—34
SOMERSET (40)—Edwards 5, Scott 10, Brooks 2, Mills 17, Wallace 2, Johnson 4.
SOUTH LAUREL (34)—Arthur 8, Johnson 2, Clonce 10, Vandeventer 1, Parker 4, Morris 3, Reynolds 6.