A strong defensive performance from the South Laurel Lady Cardinals led to a 72-55 win over Letcher County Central in the opening game of the season on Monday night.
South Laurel went on the road to eastern Kentucky and held the Lady Cougars to just 24 points in the second half, after taking a 35-31 lead at the half. It was the kind of performance that the back-to-back regional champions are expected to have as they enter the season defending their title.
The Lady Cardinals had three players in double figures to lead the offense on Monday. Kylie Clem led the way with 21 points, followed by Clara Collins who finished with 19. Eighth-grader Skeeter Mabe added 15 points in the start.
South Laurel’s offense knocked down eight three-pointers in the win.
Coach Chris Souder said it was a good win from his team for the first game of the year, but, as all teams at this point, they have a long way to go.
“Well, it was not an easy win for sure,” said Souder. “We got in early foul trouble so we had some kids come in to hold the fort down for us. We have a lot to learn and if we can learn and win along the way, it is great.”
South Laurel opened the game with a flurry of scoring, with all five starters finding the scoring column. Collins and Emily Cox both knocked down three-point shots in the first quarter to help the Lady Cardinals jump out to a 20-17 lead.
After taking a 35-31 lead into the half, South Laurel’s offense struggled in the third quarter. Cox scored four points in the period, while Collins and Gracie Turner each connected on big three-pointers to pace the Lady Cardinals, as they led 49-45 after three.
South Laurel put together a strong final quarter, led by Mabe’s nine points and Clem’s seven. Souder said his team had a strong finish to the game, helping them take the 72-55 win.
“We had a really good spurt in the last four minutes of the game,” said Souder. “It was a good road win against a really good team.”
South Laurel 72, Letcher Central 55
South Laurel 20 15 14 23 - 72
Letcher Central 17 14 14 10 - 55
South Laurel (72) - Clem 21, Collins 19, Mabe 15, Cox 7, Turner 6, Corbin Miller 4
Letcher Central (55) - Banks, 13, Holcomb 14, Couch 7, Whitt 4, Kincer 2, Bentley 4, Banks 6