By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
The South Laurel Lady Cardinals knew Bell County could shoot, but did they know the Lady Bobcats could shoot this good? Bell County topped the Lady Cardinals 62-55 Friday with 33 of their points coming on three-pointers
South Laurel coach Konnie Snyder went over the numbers with her team before the game. Bell County shoots 41 percent from the three-point line and 46 percent from the field.
“They shoot as well from the three-point line as they do the field and they would much rather shoot a three,” Snyder said.
The Lady Bobcats made six straight three-pointers in the second quarter as they opened a double-figure lead. They made three straight in the third quarter as the lead peaked at 19 points.
“We chose to come out in a zone because we felt like they would gap us too bad, penetrate and pitch it back out,” Snyder said. “We knew how they could shoot, but we were hoping they would come out just a little bit cold.”
The Lady Bobcats didn’t come out blazing. They made just 6-of-16 shots in the first quarter, while the Lady Cardinals made 6-of-11. South Laurel was also controlling the boards, led by Taylor Arthur with a 20-rebound night. What the Lady Cardinals didn’t do was take care of the ball.
“We got the ball down the sideline and couldn’t get it back out. We got trapped a few times. We had discussed that, but we didn’t exactly execute,” Snyder said.
South Laurel turned the ball over six times in the first quarter. A quarter that featured four ties and six lead changes before Bell County closed it out with a 14-13 lead.
With 5:23 in the half, Arthur scored inside on a lob from Emily Clonce. The Lady Cardinals trailed by just five, but would go five minutes before they made another field goal.
“We tend to have little gaps like that. I don’t know really what it is. We stop being aggressive. We probably took the most perimeter shots during that time and were not aggressive toward the basket,” Snyder said.
By the time Preslie Baker drove the lane for a layup to break the drought, there were only 22 seconds in the half. Bell County led 33-22 at the break.
South Laurel made defensive adjustments at the half, but it didn’t slow the Lady Bobcats. Three quick three-pointers had the lead at 45-26. So South Laurel tweaked the defense again. The Lady Bobcats didn’t make a three-pointer the final 13:30.
The Lady Cardinals ended the third quarter on an 11-2 run to trim the lead to 10 points. They got as close as six points with 1:36 to play, but Bell County sealed the win at the foul line.
Snyder said she didn’t put any extra significance on this game because it was against one of the top teams in the region. This wasn’t a measuring stick against Bell County.
“Every game is a big game for us. We feel like we have to improve every day. Whether it is a game or practice, we have got to improve,” Snyder said.
The Lady Cardinals played in two December tournaments. The time spent in those tournaments and away from the practice floor may have set the Lady Cardinals back.
“We did things we needed to work on until the game today. The first time they heard anything about Bell County was when I went into the locker room before the game,” Snyder said.
South Laurel will host North Laurel tonight.
Bell County 62, South Laurel 55
Bell County 14 19 14 15—62
South Laurel 13 9 15 18—55
BELL COUNTY (62)—Sanders 15, Garnett 13, Smith 3, Morris 23, Johnson 6, Boatright 2.
SOUTH LAUREL (55)—Arthur 10, Johnson 16, Clonce 19, Baker 2, Parker 2, Reynolds 6.