By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
MONTICELLO—Jessica Hardin poured in 28 points as the Wayne County Lady Cardinals handed the South Laurel Lady Cardinals a 62-54 setback Thursday night.
“We can’t give up 28 points to one player,” South Laurel coach Konnie Snyder said. “Especially when she is on the free throw line every second or third possession.” Hardin came into the game averaging 19.4 points per game.
Ten of Hardin’s points came via the free throw line, eight of those in the critical fourth quarter, where she was 8-of-10. As a team, Wayne County (15-11) made 23 trips to the charity stripe, converting on 19. Compare that to South Laurel being just 6-of-11 and that’s pretty much the ballgame.
Emily Clonce and Taylor Arthur were just about the only offense the Lady Cardinals (11-12) had on this night. The duo scored South’s first 17 points, and through three quarters, combined for 27 of the team’s 31 points. Clonce would finish with 19, while Arthur chipped in 17.
It was a turnover filled game with both teams committed 17. South had 11 in the first half alone.
Arthur scored eight of her points in the first quarter, as South held a 12-10 lead at the buzzer. The offense then sputtered in the second quarter. South wouldn’t score until the 4:56 mark on a turnaround jumper by Arthur. The Lady Cards could manage only five points as Wayne County, behind six points Hardin, including a three, lead at the half, 22-17.
South finally had someone besides Arthur and Clonce score at the beginning of the third as C.J. Johnson and Katie Reynolds hit back-to-back jumpers to cut the lead to three, 24-21, with 7:07 left. The rest of the points in the quarter (10) were scored by either Arthur or Clonce, while Hardin continued her torrid pace with nine, six from three point land, as Wayne’s lead grew to seven, 38-31, heading into the fourth quarter.
South tried to stay close in the final quarter. A three by Madyson Morris with 5:51 left kept South within six at 42-36. Former Lady Cardinal Tori Bell then drained a three of her own for Wayne County to push the lead back to 45-36. That would be the theme throughout the fourth quarter. Every time South would score, Wayne answered on the other end.
“You can’t do that when you are playing catch-up,” Snyder said.
Wayne started going inside to its big girl, Taylor Alexander, who scored six of her 12 points. A Karli Parker three with 41.2 seconds left cut the lead to four, 58-54, giving South Laurel hope. But South would miss its next two field goal attempts, while Hardin was 4-of-4 over the final 35.4 from the free throw line to seal the win for Wayne County, 62-54.
“We didn’t do a good job defending and getting them out of what they wanted to do,” Snyder said.
For the game, South Laurel shot 40 percent, hitting 23-of-57, while Wayne County was 19-of-44 for 43 percent.
South Laurel traveled to Barbourville Saturday and will be on the road at Clay County tonight, then wrap-up regular season play Friday at home against Rockcastle County.
Wayne County 62, South Laurel 54
South Laurel 12 5 14 23—54
Wayne County 10 12 16 24—62
SOUTH LAUREL (54)—Arthur 17, Clonce 19, Johnson 4, Reynolds 2, Morris 3, Baker 2, Vandeventer 4, Parker 3.
WAYNE COUNTY (62)—Alexander 12, Roberts 11, Hardin 28, Steele 2, Smith 2, Gillespie 2, Bell 5.