By John Stepp
For The Times Tribune
SOUTH LAUREL — With tournament time approaching, it looks like the South Laurel Cardinals may have been saving their best for last, as they took down the visiting Rockcastle Rockets 74-41 on senior night.
The Cardinals used the win to send their seniors off in a big way, as five of their six seniors found the scoring column on Friday night. Guard Zach Jones led South Laurel in scoring with 15 points, while fellow seniors Matt Slavey and Blake Sanders finished with 10 and eight points, respectively.
“I’m extremely happy for our seniors. On a night like this, there is so much emotion about it being your last home game, it can be tough, but the guys came out tonight and played like it was their last game,” said South Laurel Coach Jeff Davis. “This senior bunch has been through a lot. They’ve been through injuries and a coaching thing, but the most important thing is we’re always together. They deserve great things to happen and I hope the script is unwritten for this bunch and we have some great memories ahead of us.”
It took no time for the Cardinals to take control of the game. South Laurel was on fire from the start, knocking down three three-point shots in the first quarter. More impressively, the Cardinals allowed the Rockets just two field goals in the opening quarter, taking a 13-6 lead after one.
The Rockets fought back in the second quarter but were no match, as South Laurel continued to score in droves. Seven different Cardinals’ players scored in the quarter, as the South Laurel defensive pressure proved to be too much for Rockcastle. At the half, the Cardinals led 35-23.
“I thought everyone played extremely hard tonight. I thought the guys who came off the bench came in a played well,” said Davis. “A lot of the credit goes to our defense. They got things started and helped our offense to get going.”
The Cardinals did not let down in the third quarter, outscoring Rockcastle 23-5 and putting the game out of reach. Despite playing the entire roster in the second half, the Cardinals never let up, leading by as much as 40 points midway through the fourth quarter. Brennan Miller came off the bench and scored eight of his 11 points in the fourth, helping the Cardinals to a 74-41 win.
“The guys came out and they were focused. I told the guys back in the locker room that this was probably the first time, for a complete game, where we moved the basketball, we defended, and our energy, from first quarter to end, was at an all time high,” said Davis. “Hopefully, we can carry this over to the tournament, and have success.”
The Cardinals will return to action next week, taking on the Whitley County Colonels in the opening round of the 50th District Tournament. The teams split games during the regular season.
“Last time, they took us to the wood shed. They just took it to us. This time we have to be better defensively,” said Davis. “We’ve got to come out and be aggressive, not just offensively but defensively. We’ve just got to be ready to play.”
South Laurel 74, Rockcastle Co. 41
Rockcastle 6 17 5 13 – 41
South Laurel 13 22 23 16 – 74
Rockcastle (41) – Sam Pensol 12, Corey McPhethridge 6, Blake Mullins 5, Dakota Hasty 5, Tyler Harper 4, Carter Blanton 3, Ashton Arvin 2, John Mason 2, Zach Poynter 2
South Laurel (74) – Jones 15, Zach Baxter 11, Miller 11, Slavey 10, Sanders 8, Austin Rader 4, Austin Schaser 4, John Helton 4, Tyler Vandeventer 3, Tyler Grubb 2, Ethan Anders 2