By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
BEREA—For the first half of Friday’s South Laurel-East Jessamine game in the Peoples Bank Classic at Madison Southern, the Cardinals were following the game plan pretty much like Coach Jeff Davis wanted them to.
The Cards only trailed by one, 15-14, after the first quarter and by six at the half, 30-24. When the second half tipped, that’s when things started to fall apart for South Laurel, as East Jessamine used a pressure defense and strong rebounding to roll to the win, 73-51.
“In the second half we just didn’t play very smart,” Davis said. “We tried to force too many things, took questionable shots, and let them dictate the tempo of play instead of us.”
Take that and tossed in the play of East Jessamine’s Ronnie Carson and Timmy Bradshaw and you have a recipe for disaster. Carson scored 27, while Bradshaw chipped in with 25.
“We let them get free in space and in the lane,” Davis said. “Their post player (Bradshaw) can step outside and shoot threes, which makes it tough for our big guys to defend.”
The Cards (3-6) had beaten Buckhorn earlier in the day, 76-52. Davis said playing that first game wasn’t any excuse for the way his team played against East Jessamine (8-3).
“We should have been more patient with the ball like we were in the first half,” Davis said.
A three by Trevor Grubb to open the second quarter gave South a 17-15 lead, but Bradshaw answered on the other end with a three of his own to once again put his team on top, 18-17.
It stayed close until the 1:29 mark, when Bradshaw scored, followed by a bucket from Hayden Smith, and the Jaguars were up by four, 27-23. A three from Carson to end the half gave East Jessamine a 30-24 advantage.
The Cards were trailing by four, 32-28, with 6:42 left in the third when a back-to-back threes from Carson and Bradshaw, plus a basket by Jones, allowed the Jaguars to put a little distance between them and the Cards, 40-28. East Jessamine led after three, 49-37.
Being down only 12, the Cards were still within striking distance. But not for long. The Jaguars would hit their first 10 shots of the quarter to continue to stretch the lead. Zack Jones, who scored 20 in the win over Buckhorn, tried to keep South close, hitting consecutive threes. But the Jaguars countered with threes by Bradshaw and Carson, and with 5:53 left, the lead was 59-43.
Carson and Bradshaw scored the next two baskets to push the lead to 22, 65-43. From there they coasted to the 75-51 win. East missed only one shot in the fourth quarter, with 0.5 seconds left.
“We got into foul trouble in the second half, which didn’t help us,” Davis said. “We’ve got to keep focused and stick to the game plan. When we stick to the scouting report we are pretty good.”
The Cards wrapped up play in the tournament on Saturday, and will now prepare for the Ashland Invitational, which begins with a Thursday game against Henderson County at 2:30 p.m.
Peoples Bank Classic
at Madison Southern
East Jessamine 75, South Laurel 51
East Jessamine 15 15 19 24—75
South Laurel 14 10 13 14—51
EAST JESSAMINE (75)—Carson 27, Bradshaw 25, Jones 6, Maddon 4, Reed 6, Smith 3.
SOUTH LAUREL (51)—Slavey 5, Rader 6, Miller 6, Vandeventer 3, Baxter 9, Jones 11, T. Grubb 4, Helton 7.