Trey Smith (34) and Matt Gilbert put pressure on Whitley County's Benjamin Prewitt. South defense forced Whitley into 20 turnovers.

Coming into Tuesday night’s game with Whitley County, the South Laurel Cardinals were in a little slump, having lost 4 of their last 5 games.

Of course, those losses were to No. 7 Pleasure Ridge Park (in the Hoopin’ It Up finals), and to three of the nation’s top programs (Kathleen, Florida and Gonzaga College, Washington D.C. in the Frank Spencer Classic and Marietta Wheeler in the Nissan on Nicholasville Shootout).

“That was a tough stretch of games we played,” Coach Steve Wright said. “It was good competition.”

Wanting to get back on the winning track, the No. 13 Cardinals (11-5, 4-0) took their frustration out on the homestanding Colonels in the form of a 79-32 rout.

“I thought we had a lot of energy defensively,” Wright said. His Cardinals forced 20 turnovers, turning those miscues into 33 points. The Cards also outrebounded Whitley Co. (4-10, 1-4) 43-26.

“We only got outrebounded by five Saturday night (in the loss to Marietta Wheeler),” Wright said. “That performance, and the way we hit the boards tonight, is encouraging to me. We’ve been struggling rebounding.”

Jordan Hammonds, who injured his shoulder against Wheeler, led the Cardinals with 21 points. He also blocked six shots. Wright didn’t start Hammonds, even though he was cleared to play in this game. Hammonds came in with 4:15 left in the first quarter and South leading 6-2.

It didn’t take him long to make his mark. He nailed two threes, scored 13 points and blocked two shots to help his team to a 25-7 lead at the end of one.

“Jordan didn’t practice yesterday,” Wright said. “I think his shoulder is going to be fine. I was leery about playing him, but the trainer said it would be fine.”

Matt Gilbert added 20 points, while Trey Smith chipped in with 14 points, seven rebounds, six blocks and five steals.

“Matt played well,” Wright said of his young guard.

Ty Proffitt finished with only one point, to the surprise of many, including his coach.

“I thought I’d never see the day that Ty would only score one point and we would score almost 80,” Wright said. “That shows you how unselfish he is.” Proffitt finished with five assists and one steal.

The Cards continued to build on their lead, and by the time the half rolled around, it was up to 48-16. South led 63-21 after three quarters.

“Everything we did in practice last week showed up tonight,” Wright said.

The Cardinals are now off until January 16, when they host No. 14 Madison Central.

South Laurel 79, Whitley Co. 32

South Laurel 25 23 15 16—79

Whitley Co. 7 9 5 11—32

South Laurel (79)—Proffitt 1, Hammonds 21, Smith 14, Conley 2, Hamm 2, Gilbert 20, Bortnem 7, St. John 4, Smith 2, Price 4, Duncan 2.

Whitley Co. (32)—McCumbers 5, Powers 5, Lowrie 9, Crawford 2, Harris 5, Bargo 4, Capps 2.

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