By Les Dixon / For the Times-Tribune
BARBOURVILLE — Jeff Davis' South Laurel Cardinals showed no signs of fatigue during their 76-68 win over Barbourville Friday.
Playing their third game in four days, South Laurel led throughout against the Tigers, and capped off an impressive week by recording wins over Barbourville and Corbin, while dropping a heartbreaker to Knox Central.
“We've been playing well since Christmas,” Davis said. “We are executing better. I'm proud of our poise tonight. I thought we played well.”
After seeing both Zac Baxter and Jared Grubb carry the load scoring for most of the week, senior guard Trevor Grubb stepped up and set the tone early by knocking down two three-pointers. He scored 11 of his team-best 21 points when it mattered most - the fourth quarter.
“Trevor had been in a funk,” Davis said. “He shot the ball well tonight. He helped us get shots against their triangle and two.”
Despite seeing his team fall, Barbourville coach Dinky Phipps was happy with his team's effort.
“We played well, but just missed some easy shots,” he said. “We would get close, and then we just couldn't get over the hump.”
The Tigers fought back from a six-point deficit in the third quarter and got to within two points of the Cardinals' lead with 6:53 remaining in the fourth quarter.
“We cut their lead down to two points, but then they came back down and scored,” Phipps said. “We needed to get some stops and we couldn't get them. I thought South Laurel played good. They really played good on defense and did what they needed to do to win.
“They are better than what people think,” he added. “We just couldn't get over the hump.”
The Cardinals' defense played a big role in the win, but hot shooting from the floor and key makes from the free-throw line down the stretch were big as well.
South Laurel connected on 25-of-47 shot attempts in the win while knocking down nine of their final 10 free throw attempts.
“Everybody wrote us off earlier in the year, and some people still don't believe (we can make a run),” Davis said.“But playing like we did this week, and to get a win tonight, means a lot. It's important for our guys to see success.”
The Cardinals built a 21-19 lead in the first quarter behind eight-of-14 shooting, but fell behind 30-25 in the second quarter after seeing the Tigers go on a 11-4 run.
South Laurel responded by closing out the first half with an 11-6 run to tie the game at 36 apiece at halftime.
Davis' squad led by as many as six points on two different occasions in the third quarter, and held a 55-49 advantage going into the fourth quarter after a layup by Trevor Grubb and a three-pointer at the buzzer by Brennan Miller.
Baxter added nine points in the game's final eight minutes to allow South Laurel to pull away and pick up its sixth win during its past seven games.
Jason Mills led Barbourville with 26 points, as the Tigers finished the game hitting 24-of-50 shot attempts from the floor.
South Laurel 76, Barbourville 68
South Laurel 21 15 19 21 – 76
Barbourville 19 17 13 19 – 68
South Laurel (76) – T. Grubb 21, Baxter 18, J. Grubb 11, Holcomb 8, Miller 6, Helton 6, Bra. Miller 6.
Barbourville (68) – Phipps 7, Mills 26, Moore 5, Perry 15, Liford 12, Peytona 1, Rose 2.