By Les Dixon / Sports Editor
WILLIAMSBURG — Williamsburg had hopes of keeping its chance to be the No. 3 seed of 50th District alive against South Laurel Thursday, but Corey Shelton’s jumper at the buzzer rimmed out and gave the Cardinals a 53-52 win.
“We were just so close,” Williamsburg coach Patrick Robinson said. “Corey’s shot was down in the rim, it looked like to me, and just rimmed out.We got an open shot from one of our better shooters, so you’ve got to be happy with that. It just didn’t go in.”
The Cardinals used a 15-0 run in the second half to take control of the game, but saw a 46-34 lead with 5:53 remaining in the fourth quarter evaporate to five points (48-43) with under four minutes left thanks to hot shooting from three-point range by Skylar Griffith.
Williamsburg’s defensive pressure forced South Laurel into two turnovers and a basket by Shelton and three made free throws by Griffith cut the Yellow Jackets’ deficit to one point with :20 remaining.
Another turnover by the Cardinals gave Robinson’s squad a chance to win at the end, but South Laurel managed to hold on as Shelton’s shot rimmed out.
South Laurel coach Jeff Davis was relieved to see his team come away with the win, as the Cardinals continues, to struggle to put teams away.
“It’s bad coaching and it’s all on me,” Davis said. “I’m being dead serious because we have had to work on so many things with this bunch, rebounding taking care of the ball and all that kind of stuff and I said it the other night, it comes back on me — we’ve got to get better trying to score in situational stuff and that falls back on me.You can tell them in a huddle all you want, but unless you practice it — I promise we’ll start practicing.”
Both teams struggled offensively in the first half with Williamsburg holding a 13-12 edge at the end of the first quarter as the Cardinals struggled from the floor on five-of-19 shooting.
South Laurel managed to get things going in the second quarter and led 28-26 at halftime thanks to a made three-pointer by Zach Jones with less than a minute remaining in the first half.
The Cardinals began to distance themselves from the Yellow Jackets during the third quarter, as Jones’ basket with 4:18 left ignited a 15-0 run that saw Zac Baxter connect with two straight three-pointers to give his team a 12-point edge with less than six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
“We went into a lull in the third quarter and couldn’t score,” Robinson said. “The run they went on was big for them. That really hurt us. I thought we did a good job of taking it to the hole. We just weren’t knocking our shots down.”
South Laurel had held Williamsburg to zero made three-pointers until Griffith caught fire and connected with three straight three-pointers to get his team back into the game.
With the Cardinal win, now the 50th District Tournament seeding process is cleared up with Corbin getting the top seed and will now play Williamsburg, who will be the No. 4 seed. South Laurel is the No. 2 seed and will face-off against No. 3 seed Whitley County.
South Laurel 53, Williamsburg 52
South Laurel 12 16 12 13 53
Williamsburg 13 13 6 20 52
South Laurel (53) — Slavey 2, Sanders 5, Baxter 20, Miller 5, Vandeventer 11, Jones 10.
Williamsburg (52) — Shelton 20, Poore 4, Griffith 18, Sizemore 10.