LONDON — The South Laurel Lady Cardinals hit seven 3-pointers and got big games from their two senior post players Monday as they knocked off Middlesboro 70-48 in the season opener for both teams.
Senior center Taylor Arthur led South with 22 points while senior forward Cassandra Johnson added 17.
The Lady Jackets were led by 7th-grader Blair Green’s 21 points while freshman Anajae Stephney finished with 12 after battling through early foul trouble.
“(Arthur) crashed the boards awfully well, she’s a nice post player,” MHS coach Elgie Green said. “Anajae picked up three early fouls and just never could get into a rhythm.”
Stephney scored three of her points in the first quarter before sitting out most of the half with three fouls. South got four points from Arthur then Presslie Baker and Brittany Vandeventer hit two 3s apiece as they opened up a 10-point lead. Green came in off the bench and scored seven first quarter points and Taylor Prater added a basket but the Lady Cardinal advantage was 22-12 after one.
“They have a couple of really good shooters, but defensively we didn’t get out on them. We stood and watched them spot up and shoot,” Green said. “I thought our defensive effort, especially out on the wing, was lacking.”
Arthur kept rolling in the second period with 10 points, many coming after Lady Jacket turnovers. Middlesboro was held to just one field goal, a short jumper from Green, in the quarter. Bailey Hensley hit four free throws, Green two and Carissa Padgett one but the South lead grew to 39-21 by halftime.
“We talked before the game of trying to limit our turnovers to 14 for the game. We had 14 in the first half,” Green added. “If our stats are right we ended up with 21 so we did a better job taking care of the basketball in the second half.”
Johnson also had some early foul trouble and didn’t score in the first half. She sparked the Lady Cardinal early in the third quarter, scoring six points during a 10-3 run that gave South their biggest lead at 49-24.
The Lady Jackets continued to fight back as Amanda Biscardi hit a short jumper and Hensley came up with a steal that led to a pair of free throws by Stephney. Later Stephney found Padgett under the basket for a layup and it was 49-31 with 2:25 remaining in the third.
South’s lead hovered right around 20 points for the rest of the game.
Middlesboro got a basket from Green and then two free throws from Stephney to make it 57-38 with 6:40 to play but Johnson answered with a 3-pointer. A little later Padgett scored a pair of layups 20 seconds apart, the first coming on a nice feed from Kelsie Hensley the other on a pretty baseball pass from Stephney.
Again Johnson answered with a basket to push the lead back to 20 at 62-42 and the Lady Cardinals went on to the 22-point win.
“Things we need to improve on is our defensive pressure out on the wings and boxing out,” said Green. “On our press we had three people getting to where they were supposed to be and then two that were not and that just messes up the whole thing. If you don’t have all five people doing their job then you can’t press.
“We did see flashes of running our offense and getting good looks but we need to do a better job of passing the basketball.”
Middlesboro (0-1) heads to Corbin for the Cumberland Falls Invitational this weekend. They’ll play Perry Central Thursday at 6:30 p.m., Corbin Friday at 9 p.m. and Bell County Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
South Laurel (1-0) visits Harlan County Friday.
— — —
Middlesboro…12…9…13..14 — 48
South Laurel.. 22.. 17.. 18.. 13 — 70
MIDDLESBORO (48): Blair Green 21, Anajae Stephney 12, Carissa Padgett 7, Bailey Hensley 4, Taylor Prater 2, Amanda Biscardi 2, Kelsie Hensley 0, Taylor Moyers 0, Lauren Spurlock 0.
SOUTH LAUREL (70): Taylor Arthur 22, Cassandra Johnson 17, Emily Clonce 9, Preslie Baker 8, Brittany Vandeventer 8, Bailey Miller 3, Karlie Parker 3, Madyson Morris 0.