By Les Dixon
For the Times-Tribune
SOUTH LAUREL — Corbin coach Tony Pietrowski decided to throw a zone at 50th District rival South Laurel during Tuesday's match-up, and the move turned out to be a good one.
The Redhounds dared South Laurel to shoot from three-point range, and the Cardinals obliged, but didn't fare well, connecting on five-of-22 shot attempts from three-point territory while shooting 18-of-52 for the game, as Corbin wrapped up a 66-61 win over South Laurel.
“We wanted to start out in a zone to keep them from penetrating and it turned out to work for us,” Pietrowski said. “We are still a work in progress, but I was really pleased with the way we came out ready to play.”
South Laurel coach Jeff Davis was quick to point out how his team played into Corbin's hand.
“They executed their game plan,” he said. “Give Corbin credit. They forced us to do what we can't do very well right now and that's shooting from the outside.
“We settled for shots,” Davis added. “You've gotta have an idea of what you want to do and execute it, and we didn't do that.”
Despite shooting only two-of-nine from three-point range in the first quarter and three-of-13 from the floor, the Cardinals were able to lead by as many as five points (7-2) before taking an 11-10 edge into the second quarter.
South Laurel's lead grew to 16-10 two minutes into the second quarter before the Redhounds rallied with a 12-3 run while leading 22-19 at halftime.
“This is a fun bunch to coach,” Pietrowski said. “We are still growing. You know, for the last two years we've lost all five starters, and I just can't emphasize enough that we are still learning.
“We gave a good effort and were able to grab the lead in the second quarter,” he added.
It would be a lead Corbin never relinquished.
The Redhounds opened the second half with a 14-5 run that saw Pietrowski's squad hit their first five shots to begin the third quarter.
The Cardinals on the other hand, continued to misfire, including from the free-throw line where they finished the game connecting on 14-of-22 shot attempts.
Six straight points by Zac Baxter allowed the Cardinals to cut their deficit to 37-30 with 2:53 remaining in the period, but a three-pointer by eighth-grader Andrew Taylor gave his Corbin team a 10-point cushion (42-32) with eight minutes remaining in regulation.
The Redhound lead grew to as many as 13 points (54-41 with 2:54 remaining) in the fourth quarter before seeing South Laurel rally.
The Cardinals cut their deficit to 58-53 with under a minute remaining in the game, but couldn't get any closer, as Corbin wrapped its win up by connecting on 13-of-22 free throw attempts during the final eight minutes of play while hitting 19-of-33 for the game.
“It shows you where we are at right now and where we need to go,” Davis said of the loss. “We need to get back in the gym and work on us.”
Corbin has now won 12 of its past 14 meetings against the Cardinals, including 11 of the last 12.
The Redhounds are now 1-0 against 50th District competition while South Laurel falls to 1-1.
“This was a huge win for us,” Pietrowski said. “This district is as balanced as it's been in a long time. Whitley County is a solid team, and Williamsburg is very good, and you saw what South can do tonight.
“All of these district games are uber-important,” he added. “It's very big to come out here and get a district road win.”
The Redhounds finished the game connecting on 21-of-44 shot attempts, including three-of-seven from three-point range while the Cardinals connected on 18-of-52 from the floor. Kevin Goins and Trevor Browning each scored 15 points for Corbin while Baxter led South Laurel with 18 points.
Corbin 66, South Laurel 61
Corbin 10 12 20 24 66
South Laurel 11 8 13 29 61
Corbin (66) – Goins 15, Waddle 4, Taylor 9, Shelton 14, Browning 15, Rice 6, Hopkins 3.
South Laurel (61) – T. Grubb 8, Bre. Miller 6, Baxter 18, Holcomb 5, Helton 6, Anders 3, Vanderventer 4, J. Grubb 8, Bra. Miller 3.