By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
CRESTVIEW HILLS—A game effort by a decimated South Laurel squad came up just short Sunday, as the Cardinals fell to Purcell-Marian, 70-67, in the Bluegrass-Buckeye Charity Classic at Thomas More College.
This loss came one day after the Cardinals (0-3) fell to Tates Creek, 63-56, a game that saw Blake Sanders go out with a broken hand with just over six minutes left in the third quarter. Sanders joins the ranks of the injured along with Trevor Grubb (broken hand), Austin Rader (knee injury) and Zach Allen (concussion).
“Blake goes to have surgery Thursday morning,” Coach Jeff Davis said. “He will probably be out 4 to 6 weeks. Trevor goes back for a second opinion to see when he can return, and we’re still not sure on Rader.” Allen is lost for the season after suffering a concussion during football season.
With both point guards out, Davis inserted Brennan Miller into that role on Saturday after Sanders was injured, and kept him there against the Cavaliers on Sunday.
“Brennan played well,” Davis said. “He handled the ball well and defended well. I didn’t know until after Sunday’s game that he has been battling flu-like symptoms.”
Purcell-Marian was the quickest team that the Cardinals have faced this season. The Cavs (1-1) were led by Dwayne Wilson II, who scored 20, while Carlik Jones added 13 and Rashaas Ali-Shakir and Jamel Howard chipped in with 10 each.
After being held to just seven points in the season-opening loss to Wayne County, Zac Baxter bounced back over the weekend, scoring 19 against Tates Creek and 18 against Purcell-Marian.
“Zac shot the ball well both games,” Davis said.
Against the Cavaliers, the Cards trailed after one, 15-9, and by 10 at the half, 35-25. South opened the third quarter in a zone, trying to keep players out of foul trouble and keep their legs under them. The Cavs used a pressing defense that cause the Cards to turn the ball over and take bad shots in the first half.
“We came out in the third and made a run at them,” Davis said. Still, his team was down by nine, 49-40, heading in the fourth.
South Laurel would slowly battle its way back into the contest. A steal and a three by Zack Jones cut the lead to 57-49 at the 5:20 mark. A Baxter three brought South within six, 59-53, midway through the fourth.
With 1:40 left, the Cards had trimmed the lead to four, 63-59. They got it all the way down to one, 68-67, with 9.6 seconds left when Matthew Slavey hit 1-of-2 free throws from the line. After Jones hit two free throws to restore the lead to three, 70-67, South had one last chance for the tie, but Miller’s three fell short. Slavey would finish with 17, while Miller added 12 and Jones, 10.
“In the fourth we played harder and attacked more,” Davis said. “A couple of times we had the ball and down two, only to turn it over and they would score. I’m proud of them. They fought all the adversity we’ve been through. Jones played well, as did our big men. Purcell was really fast and very athletic. Now we just have to get ready for Whitley County. I told the team we can’t feel sorry for ourselves because our opponents won’t be.”
The Cards will host Whitley County Thursday night.
Tates Creek 63, South Laurel 56
Blake Sanders was having an outstanding game against the visiting Commodores on Saturday.
He had just drained his fourth 3-pointer of the game to give him 14 points with 6:22 left in the third quarter, giving his team a 28-27 lead.
After getting the ball back, he drove to the basket, and collided with a Tates Creek player. Sanders went down hard and grasped his right hand. He wouldn’t return and later it was confirmed he had broken his hand.
Still the Cards battled on before eventually falling to the Commodores, 63-56.
“We played a lot better,” Davis said. “We played within ourselves. I thought against Wayne County we didn’t play very hard. Tonight we left it all on the floor.”
The Commodores (1-2) were led by Vincent Mattox, the son of former University of Kentucky coach Bernadette Mattox. He scored 25 points to lead three Tates Creek players in double figures. Desmond Duke and Landon Love added 10 each.
Jordan Fucci, one of the top players in Lexington, was held to just nine points.
“Austin (Schaser) played a great game in guarding Fucci and holding him to just nine points,” Davis said.
Three treys in the first quarter (two from Sanders) helped South to a 16-9 lead after one. The Cards were able to maintain their lead throughout most of the second quarter, thanks to threes by Sanders and Zac Baxter, to hold a one-point lead at the half, 25-24.
After Sanders went out early in the third, the Commodores started their comeback. Baskets by Mattox and Love gave Tates Creek a 31-28 lead with 5:38 left. After South cut it to one, Mattox answered with a three, followed by two straight baskets from Ian Davis, to take a 38-30 lead at the 3:23 mark.
The Cards answered with a 10-0 run to take a 41-38 lead with 1:41 left. Zack Jones drained a three, then was fouled attempting another three. He would make all three free throws. Baxter followed with a three, then Schaser capped off the run with a basket. Two free throws by Mattox gave Tates Creek a 41-41 lead after three.
Tates Creek opened the fourth quarter with a 4-0 run to push the lead to 46-41. A 6-0 South run (four from Baxter) allowed the Cards to retake the lead, 47-46, with 5:13 left. A Miller three, then two free throws by Baxter, and South held a 52-49 lead with 4:15 left. That would be the final Cardinal lead of the game.
An 8-0 run gave Tates Creek a 57-52 lead. Two straight baskets by Schaser kept South close, the second one with 1:02 let, cutting the lead to three, 59-56. The Commodores’ Duke was 4-of-4 from the free throw line over the final 20 seconds to seal the 63-56 win.
Baxter led South Laurel with 19 points.
“I told him when you are under control and letting things come to you you are pretty good,” Davis said of Baxter. “He played within himself. He was ready tonight.”
Bluegrass-Buckeye Charity Classic
at Thomas More College
Purcell-Marian 70, South Laurel 67
Purcell-Marian 15 20 14 21—70
South Laurel 9 16 15 27—67
PURCELL-MARIAN (70)—Ali-Shakir 10, T. Johnson 8, Smith 2, Wilson II 20, I. Johnson 78, Howard 10, Jones 13.
SOUTH LAUREL (67)—Baxter 19, Slavey 17, Miller 12, Schaser 2, Jones 10, Vandeventer 3, Anders 2.
Tates Creek 63, South Laurel 56
Tates Creek 9 15 18 21—63
South Laurel 16 25 16 15—56
TATES CREEK (63)—Duke 10, Mattox 25, Love 14, E. Davis 1, Fucci 9, I. Davis 7, Shelton 1.
SOUTH LAUREL (56)—Sanders 14, Slavey 1, Schaser 6, Miller 5, Vandeventer 2, Jones 6, Grubb 3, Baxter 19.