By Chris Parsons
WILLIAMSBURG — For the first time in over a month, Whitley County coach Larry Anderson had a full roster of Lady Colonels at his disposal Tuesday.
Granted, Anderson’s squad wasn’t at 100 percent by any stretch and he said the saying ‘no pain, no gain’ definitely came to mind during Tuesday night’s 43-40 win over South Laurel.
“These kids just came out and played through the pain tonight,” Anderson said. “Not to take anything away from South Laurel, but I would estimate that we were really at about 60 percent health-wise tonight.”
As if it were scripted that way, the game came down to a pair of last-second shots before anything was decided.
The Lady Colonels’ Brandi Smith connected on a three-pointer with :03 to play to put her team up 43-40. The Lady Cardinals had one last chance to inbound the ball and get a shot off, but it was off the mark as Whitley County advanced to the district finals on Friday night.
Though he was happy to have a bench full of players to utilize, Anderson was quick to point that several of his kids probably shouldn’t have even been on the court Tuesday.
“Bethany (Powers) actually had to come out and have her knee worked on at one point, and Brandi is extremely weak right now and maybe should have not played so much, if at all,” he added. “They did a great job though and this was indicative of how they have battled through this season as a team.
“I can’t say enough about the fight in this team,” he added. “They didn’t want this to be their last game, but I wasn’t concerned with that as long as they left everything they had on the court when it was all over, I would’ve been happy either way.”
Both teams struggled offensively throughout the game, but the Lady Cardinals managed to grab an 8-7 lead at the end of the first quarter and extend the margin to 19-12 at halftime.
The Lady Colonels doubled their first-half output in the third quarter alone, outscoring South Laurel 12-7 in the period to take a brief 22-23 lead, but still trailed 26-24 with eight minutes to play in the game.
As time wound down, the two teams traded the lead five times, thanks to good free throw shooting on both sides.
Smith gave the Lady Colonels a 40-38 lead with :32 to play, but Taylor Arthur tied the game at 40 apiece with two of her game-high 14 points with :18 to play.
Whitley County tried to go inside on the final possession, but the Lady Cardinals’ defense collapsed on Kandice Craig, forcing her to dish to Smith, who had an open look at the go-ahead three-pointer.
“I had a good look and we really like to shoot the three, so I let it go,” Smith said. “It wasn’t the shot we were looking for, but coach tells us if we are open to shoot it and I did.”
South Laurel threw the ball in to Arthur, who got it to Karli Parker at half-court. Parker’s shot was released in time, but it went wide as the horn sounded.
Girls 50th District Tournament Semifinals
at Williamsburg High School
Whitley County 43, South Laurel 40
South Laurel 8 11 7 14 40
Whitley County 7 5 12 19 43
South Laurel (40) — Arthur 14, Clonce 13, Johnson 9, Baker 2, Reynolds 2.
Whitley County (43) — Smith 11, Dingess 10, Powers 8, Johnson 6, Sizemore 4, Craig 2, Jones 2.