North, South to meet in semifinals
CORBIN — They came, they saw, they dominated.
The South Laurel Lady Cardinals reminded everyone in attendance during their 72-30 blowout victory over Bell County in Thursday’s 13th Region Girls Basketball Tournament, there is a reason why they entered the season as one of the top teams in the state.
It’s because they’re pretty darn good.
Souder said he told his players before the game to come about and take care of business, and they did just that.
“We didn’t want them to come out to high or too low. We wanted them even keel, but we also wanted them to have fun. We wanted to come out and take care of business and I thought we did. We hadn’t practiced well all week, but we really practiced well here on Sunday,” South Laurel coach Chris Souder said. “Some of that, I told them, is on me. I’m pretty intense, and I’m not-picking in things, and we’re not where we need to be, but that’s not their fault.”
The Lady Cardinals wasted little time in taking control of their first round matchup with the Lady Bobcats by knocking down 21-of-40 shot attempts in the first half, including a 7-of-21 effort from 3-point range that allowed South Laurel to lay claim to a 54-13 halftime lead.
South Laurel (26-7) put the finishing touches on the win scoring nine straight points to open the third quarter.
The win advances the Lady Cardinals to Saturday’s semifinal matchup with crosstown rival North Laurel. The two teams split a pair of games this season with South Laurel winning on Jan. 11, 64-57, while the Lady Jaguars getting revenge on Jan. 19, 67-59.
“It’s going to be tough,” Souders said. “They play really hard. I don’t know if they have any weaknesses. We’ve got to prepare and get ready.
“We told them that it’s going to get tougher,” he added. “The further you go, it’s going to get tough. We talk about weathering the storm — we know we are going to have a game where we are going to weather a storm during a quarter, and you’ve got to weather it.”
The North Laurel Lady Jaguars will be advancing to the semifinals in the 13th Region Tournament after a 72-49 first round win on Thursday night over the Knox Central Lady Panthers.
Though North Laurel coach Eddie Mahan said he didn’t feel as if it was the prettiest of wins he has seen from his Lady Jaguars this season, he was happy to see his team come out on top.
“All in all, it doesn’t matter if its an ugly win or if it’s a pretty win—it’s all about surviving and advancing right now and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Mahan said.
The Lady Jaguars will be advancing to the semifinal round of the 13th Region Tournament where North Laurel will be taking on their crosstown rival, the South Laurel Lady Cardinals.
“I know my team will be ready,” said Mahan. “They’ve always stepped up in the moment it seems like. I think we’ll play different, I think we’ll play better that day.”
Mahan said his Lady Jaguars will have to bring their A-game on Saturday.
“It’s a different type of game—the crosstown rivalry comes to the semifinals of the region tournament,” he said. “We’re going to have to do a much better job defensively. They shoot the ball so well, so we’re going to have to make sure we’re out on shooters. We have the advantage in the paint, so we’re going to have to make sure we take advantage of that but that also causes matchup problems for ourselves too.”
North Laurel will take on South Laurel on Saturday in the semifinal round of the 13th Region Tournament at the Corbin Arena, with tip-off set for 2:30 p.m.
“It’s just going to be who wants it more between these two good teams,” said Mahan. “I think most people since probably mid-January has said these two teams would probably meet up at some time in the region tournament. Let’s hope it’s as exciting of a game as everybody has talked about for the last two months.”
North Laurel (72) – Valentine 10, Gray 7, Anderson 4, Carroll 9, Blair 3, Jervis 19, Sizemore 5, Hubbard 15.
Knox Central (49) – Liford 2, Mills 7, Partin 20, Swafford 6, Davis 14.
South Laurel (72) — Collett 15, Hall 12, Howard 8, L. Cox 3, E. Cox 2, Neal 4, Steele 24, Miller 2, Anders 2.
Bell County (30) — Johnson 4, Harris 6, Cornett 10, McQueen 2, Browning 8.