Wes Dean goes up past three Knott Co. Central players.

The South Laurel Cardinals performed the “Matt and Matt Show” as they advanced to the finals of the Hometown Bank Hoopin-It-Up-Holiday-Classic by defeating Knott County Central 94-79 on Monday night.

Matt St. John recorded his second straight double double with 32 points and 13 rebounds, while Matt Watkins added 27 points including three treys.

“Watkins not only shot the ball well, he also defended well and done a lot of good things for us,” South Laurel coach Steve Wright said. “St. John just gets better all the time. He works so hard and our guys understand to get him the ball.”

The Cardinals flew out to an early 13-4 advantage courtesy of St. John and Wes Dean. Dean opened the game with a three-pointer and scored six points in the first quarter. St. John also added six points in the first quarter.

The Patriots turned to Stuart Stamper who scored 10 points in the first quarter and finished with 20 points on the night. Tate Cox led the Patriots with 25 points including five three-pointers.

The Patriots would not go away as they battled back to tie the score at 26-26 with just over five minutes remaining in the second quarter. The Cardinals led 46-40 at the half.

The Cardinals understand how important the first few minutes of the third quarter can be as they stormed out to a 55-42 advantage with 5:54 remaining in the third quarter. The Cardinals led 67-50 going into the final period.

“Our defense in the third quarter was really good,” Wright said. “The first four minutes of the third quarter are very important. They are a real quality team and this was a good win for us.”

Matt Gilbert scored five points early in the fourth quarter including a three-pointer. Gilbert finished with seven points, seven rebounds and eight assist on the night.

The Patriots tried to mount one last surge as they cut the led to 81-69, but the Cardinals answered with an 11-6 run thanks to Watkins and St. John. Watkins scored the next five points and St. John added the next six including a dunk with :39 remaining for the 92-75 lead.

South Laurel 94, Knott County Central 79

Knott Co. Cent. (79)–Ratliff 7, Stamper 20, Amburgey 4, Cox 25, Caudill 2, Mullins 3, Bartrum 6, Davis 12

South Laurel (94)–Dean 17, Watkins 27, Gilbert 7, St. John 32, Huff 7, Sizemore 2, Mehler 2

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