By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
MONTICELLO—For 2 1/2 quarters the South Laurel Cardinals gave the defending 12th Region champion Wayne County Cardinals everything they wanted and more.
Then Peyton Woods came alive, scoring 22 of his game-high 36 points, including four three pointers, to help lead his team to a tough 68-64 win.
“We lost shooters in the second half, and I think fatigue started to set in,” South Laurel coach Jeff Davis said. “We got caught up trying to draw a foul instead of finishing off the play. And we missed a lot of lay-ups.”
Wayne County was without three players, including two starters, due to the Cardinals still being in the high school playoffs. South Laurel was without the services of Zac Baxter. Last season Wayne County rolled to a 73-57 win.
The game was tied 11-11 after the first quarter, a quarter that saw South Laurel come out strong and hold a 9-5 lead before Wayne County went on a 6-2 run to end the quarter. John Helton scored all six of his points in the first quarter and grabbed several rebounds.
“If John can play like he did in the first half, that will be huge for us,” Davis said. “We need John to do that. It makes us a better team.”
Wayne County held a 14-11 lead before Trevor Grubb scored eight of the next 10 South Laurel points to give his team a 21-16 lead. His younger brother, Jared, then drained back-to-back threes and South Laurel led at the half, 27-23. The older Grubb would finish with a team-high 29 points.
South’s lead grew to 31-23 with 6:36 left in the third before Wayne County started to battle back behind the play of Woods. His three with 3:38 left brought his team to within one at 36-35.
Trevor Grubb drove the lane, scored and was fouled. When he sank his free throw it gave South a 39-35 advantage. A three from Vince Holcomb made it 42-37 at the 2:08 mark. But an 8-0 run, including another three by Woods, gave Wayne County a 46-42 lead going into the fourth quarter, a lead it would never relinquish.
In fact, the Cards built on that lead throughout the first part of the fourth quarter and led by seven, 57-50, with 2:53 left. But South’s Cards refused to go away.
A lay-up by Jared Grubb, followed by two free throws from Trevor Grubb, and the lead was down to four, 58-54, with 1:48 left. That would be as close as South would get, as Wayne went 8-of-15 from the free throw line over the final 1:51 to help seal the win. Ethan Anders and Trevor Grubb both drained threes in the final five seconds of play but it wasn’t enough as Wayne County escaped, 68-64.
Afterwards Davis praised the play of Holcomb and Tyler Vandeventer.
“They did a good job guarding Woods, which isn’t an easy thing to do,” Davis said. “Overall I’m pleased with the way we started this season. Wayne has a great team. I’m proud of the way we stayed in and fought until the end.”
The Cards will travel to take on Clay County tonight, then play Estill County Saturday at Montgomery County.
Wayne County 68, South Laurel 64
South Laurel 11 16 15 22—64
Wayne County 11 12 23 22—68
SOUTH LAUREL (64)—T. Grubb 29, Anders 9, Vandeventer 3, Helton 6, Holcomb 5, J. Grubb 12.
WAYNE COUNTY (68)—Woods 36, Blevins 2, Staples 3, Stearns 17, Gillespie 8, Bertram 2.