By Les Dixon / Sports Editor
SOUTH LAUREL — For the past week, South Laurel coach Jeff Davis has been stressing the importance of making the extra pass — his players were listening.
With the game tied at 75 apiece and just seconds remaining in double overtime against 50th District rival Corbin, South Laurel forced a turnover and the ball found the hands of senior guard Blake Sanders, who dribbled into the middle of the lane, and made the extra pass to a wide open Austin Schaser, who did the rest — laying the ball in with 1.8 seconds left to give his team a 77-75 win.
The South Laurel student section stormed the court, as the Cardinals snapped an 11-game losing skid to the Redhounds dating back to Jan. 29, 2009.
“I love Austin Schaser and I love him to death, but Blake Sanders coming down in the lane and no one thinks he’s going to pass it to Austin and he did and Austin hit the shot,” Davis said. “We’ve been telling our guys this past week that if they step up on us, dish it and it makes our big guys have to step up and make it.
“When we were in the timeout before they threw the ball in, I told our guys if they were going to get the last shot, it will be under distress,” he added. “We didn’t want certain players to touch the ball and we wanted some other guys to make decision and our guys executed that well. We made it tough on them and got the turnover. We wanted to give ourselves a chance to win in overtime and we were able to do that.”
Corbin’s slow start in the first half allowed South Laurel to gain some much-needed momentum.
“We just didn’t start out well,” Pietrowski said. “You can’t lose players like (Zac) Baxter and (Matt) Slavey — they just gapped us early.
“I also thought there were two, three or four times late in the game and in overtime we could have handled things better, but again, that’s something we’re going to have to work on,” he added.
After seeing his team lose a lot of close games this season, Davis admitted this is a game his team needed to win.
The Cardinals led by as many as seven points (39-32) in the second half before seeing Corbin storm back. The Redhounds held a four-point edge in the second overtime before Sanders singlehandedly got his team back in the game with a three-pointer and a jumper.
“This is more for the kids, so they know they can beat them,” Davis said. “We played basketball tonight. It’s a great win if we could back it up. We’ve got to build on this.
“In my short time here, when it comes to South Laurel and Corbin, it’s gonna be a South/Corbin game,” he added. “You know they’re going to be well-prepared and they are coached so extremely well and you’ve got to bring your A-game.
“What a basketball game this year,” he added. “I’m happy for our kids and fans — they deserve this.”
Even with the loss, Pietrowski’s Redhounds still control their own destiny in the 50th District. Wins over Whitley County and Williamsburg next week will assure Corbin the district’s top seed.
“We’ve got to refocus,” he said. “We fought a battle tonight. That was a hard fought game.
“We’ve got some tough games coming up and now we’ve got to regroup and gather the troops rather quickly,” Pietrowski added. “It’s not a sprint, but a marathon and we just hit a speed bump in the road.”
South Laurel’s Sanders led all players with 20 points while Baxter followed with 17 points. Robbie Igo led Corbin with a 17-point scoring effort while Kaleb Maguet added 14 points.
South Laurel 77, Corbin 75 2OT
Corbin 16 16 17 16 2 8 75
South Laurel 18 21 10 16 2 10 77
Corbin (75) — Farley 6, Maguet 14, Hill 7, Grubb 13, Igo 17, Goins 11, Shelton 7.
South Laurel (77) — Slavey 9, Rader 1, Miller 7, Baxter 17, Schaser 12, Sanders 20, Grubb 1, Jones 8, Helton 2.