By Les Dixon / Sports Editor
SOUTH LAUREL — South Laurel coach Jeff Davis knew Williamsburg’s strength is its perimeter shooting, so he stressed defense the entire time to his players leading up to Tuesday’s matchup with the Yellow Jackets.
It paid off, as the Cardinals limited the Yellow Jackets to two-of-11 shooting from three-point range during their 57-47 50th District win.
South Laurel kept its hope of grabbing the top seed in the 50th District by improving to 2-1 in district play while Williamsburg fell to 3-7 overall and 0-2 against 50th District competition.
“The bad start in the first half really did us in,” Williamsburg coach Patrick Robinson said. “You can’t fall behind 10 to 12 points to South Laurel and expect to come back. We did put up a good fight, but once we got close, we forgot how to rebound and then they pulled away.
“You can’t win doing that,” he added. “It’s very disappointing. We are competing, though. We just need to come out and shoot the ball better.”
South Laurel (6-8) limited Williamsburg to six-of-19 shooting in the first half, including an 0-of-four effort from three-point range while building an impressive 24-13 lead.
“Thank goodness for our defensive play in the first half,” Davis said. “We didn’t do a good job scoring — we kind of just stood around. We did take away their threes and that was our main focus.
“We just didn’t do as good of a job in the second half,” he added. “Our defense saved us tonight.”
The Cardinals were coming off a big win over cross-town rival North Laurel, but Davis was quick to point out his team didn’t have a letdown.
“I use the old adage of it was a Tuesday night in January,” he said. “January is a long, grinding month and you just try to get it out of the way and get ready for February. We’re at the middle of the season and we’re trying to grind things out.
“We’ve just got to come out and continue to play well,” Davis added. “We’ve gotta learn to refocus and get ready for every game.”
The Yellow Jackets began to heat up in the third quarter and got as close as four points before trailing 39-33 with eight minutes remaining in regulation.
Skylar Griffith caught the hot hand after being limited to only three points in the first half. He scored 10 of his game-high 20 points during the third quarter.
South Laurel put the game away in the fourth period thanks to consecutive three-pointers by eighth grader Jared Grubb and Zac Baxter.
The Cardinals opened the final quarter of play with an 8-2 run and built a commanding 47-35 edge.
“I thought we did a good job in the fourth quarter,” Davis said.
Despite falling behind 12 points, the Yellow Jackets wouldn’t fold. Griffith got the hot-hand again and scored seven straight points to pull his team to within six points (52-46) with 1:04 remaining, but it wasn’t enough as Williamsburg dropped its fourth game in a row.
“Right now, we are underachieving,” Robinson said. “We need to get better on a lot of things.”
South Laurel finished the game connecting on 23-of-48 shot attempts from the floor, including a four-of-12 effort from three-point range while Williamsburg was 19-of-46 from the floor.
Matt Slavey led the Cardinals with 17 points.
South Laurel 57, Williamsburg 47
Williamsburg 5 8 20 14 47
South Laurel 11 13 15 18 57
Williamsburg (47) — Shelton 11, Poore 4, Griffith 20, Sizemore 10, Hamblin 2.
South Laurel (57) — Slavey 17, Rader 8, T. Grubb 5, Baxter 7, Schaser 2, Vandeventer 9, Miller 2, Jones 4, J. Grubb 3.