, Corbin, KY

January 27, 2014

A step closer

Cardinals' 52-51 win over Whitley inches team closer to top seed

The Times-Tribune

CORBIN — By Les Dixon / For the Times-Tribune

SOUTH LAUREL — Jeff Davis' South Laurel Cardinals got a step closer to grabbing the 50th District's top seed by upending Whitley County Friday, 52-51.

The Cardinals evened their record to 9-9 on the season and 3-1 against 50th District competition by holding off the Colonels during the final seconds, as Whitley County is now 1-2 in 50th District play.

South Laurel also evened their record to 9-9 on the season while extending its season-best four-game win streak in the process.

“This is a big win for us,” Davis said. “It's against a district team, and it improved us to 3-1. Just getting the district's top seed would be a big accomplishment for our guys. But we know this district has three other good teams, so it's going to he hard once the district tournament begins.”

Whitley County entered the game with hopes of solidifying its seeding in the district after coming off of a big win over Corbin, instead the Colonels (11-7) now find themselves at the No. 3 spot at 1-2 behind Corbin, who is 2-1. Jerry Overbey's squad is now 3-3 during its past six games.

South Laurel opened the game by taking a two-point lead (11-9) into the second quarter, and the Cardinals extended their lead to 26-21 at halftime.

“We played well at times, but we missed some easy shots, and really didn't shoot the ball well from the free-throw line,” Davis said. “The big thing is that we got a win. It was ugly, but it's a win, and it doesn't matter how you get it.”

The Colonels rallied to tie the game at 37 apiece heading into the fourth quarter, but that's when it seemed as if Davis' squad was going to pull away from Whitley County.

South Laurel opened the fourth quarter with a nice little run, and the Cardinals found themselves ahead 47-37. But just as it seemed as if Davis' squad was going to pull away, Whitley County came storming back.

The Cardinals failed to put the Colonels away by missing to lay-ups, and three front-ends of bonus free throws.

“We really struggled hitting our free throws down the stretch,” Davis said. “We had a 10-point lead, and I called a time out, so we could focus on what we needed to do. Then the next thing you know, they are within four points of us. We've got to do a better job of execution down the stretch.”

South Laurel connected on only three-of-seven free throw attempts during the game's final eight minutes, while Whitley County turned in an eight-of-12 effort.

Despite their struggles from the charity stripe, the Cardinals were able to hold on and pull off the one-point win, thanks in part to freshman Jared Grubb scoring five of his 14 points during the fourth quarter.

“We didn't shoot the ball well at the free-throw line and we turned the ball over some, and I was disappointed a bit with that, but we overcame ourselves,” Davis said. "Earlier in the year, we would have gotten down on ourselves, but we did what we needed to do to get the win.

“I think the win shows to them, and myself, that we are growing up a bit,” he added. “The big thing is that we never stopped fighting. These type of games helps our guys understand what it takes to when games like this.”

Zac Baxter led South Laurel with 17 points while James Sasko added 17 for the Colonels.

Things don't get any easier for the Cardinals with games against Corbin, Knox Central and Barbourville, while Whitley County will have tests against Williamsburg, North Laurel, Clinton County, Knox Central and Corbin.

South Laurel 52, Whitley County 51

Whitley County  9  12  16  14 – 51

South Laurel     11 15  11  15 – 52

Whitley County (51) – Foley 2, James Sasko 17, Barton 10, Crisologo 9, Petrey 2, Johnson 11.

South Laurel (52) – T. Grubb 6, Anders 6, Miller 4, Baxter 17, J. Grubb 14, Helton 5.