Slow start leads to loss for Cardinals against Clay County


Les Nicholson

Clay County senior guard Connor Robinson went up for a shot during the Tigers’ win over South Laurel on Tuesday in the 13th Region Tournament.

By Les Dixon, Corbin Times Tribune

CORBIN — South Laurel picked the wrong game to turn in one of its worst shooting efforts of the season. The Cardinals were limited to only 14 first half points and could never recover, seeing their season come to an end with a 39-35 disappointing loss to Clay County during quarterfinal action of Tuesday’s 13th Region Boys Tournament.
Jeff Davis’s squad fought back and trailed 35-33 with 32 seconds remaining but couldn’t get any closer. South Laurel finished the game shooting 14-of-43 (32.6 percent) from the floor, including a 3-of-10 effort from behind the arc.
“We just didn’t shoot well,” Davis said. “It’s been like that all year. Our defense was there. It was really good. We hold them to 39 (points) and we can’t win. If you don’t shoot the ball well, that’s going to happen. We had some good looks but they just didn’t go in. You’ve got to make shots to win. “We kept fighting,” he added. “This bunch has fought all year. But when it came down to making shots, we didn’t make enough.”
Micah Anders led the Cardinals with 14 points while Caden Jones and Parker Payne each scored six points apiece.
“Micah played a heck of a game,” he added. “He shot extremely well even after being chased the entire night. We got down nine or 10, and he hit some shots that got us back in it.”
Connor Farmer led Clay County with 20 points while Connor Robinson added nine points. The Tigers finished the game hitting 16-of-40 shot attempts for the game.
The Cardinals took an early 2-0 lead to begin the game but Clay County was able to outscore the South Laurel, 11-4, the remainder of the first quarter to take an 11-6 lead. Raven Abner connected with some cuticle baskets while Connor Farmer hit two shots and Robinson was able to finish off an old-fashioned three-point play.
The Cardinals continued to struggle offensively in the second quarter with Anders scoring all eight of his team’s points during the period. His 3-pointer with 5:16 left in the first half cut South Laurel’s deficit to 15-11 but baskets by Tate Farmer, Connor Farmer and a layup at the buzzer by Robinson gave the Tigers a comfortable 21-14 lead at halftime. Davis’ Cardinals shot 28.6 percent (6-of-21) in the first half while turning the ball over seven times. Clay County hit on 9-of-21 shot attempts while outrebounding South Laurel, 13-12.
Davis’s squad came out red-hot in the second half with Anders knocking down a shot while Rhys England hit a 3-pointer to cut the Cardinals’ deficit to 21-19 with 7:04 remaining. But the Tigers were able to answer with a 12-4 run that extended their lead to 33-23 going into the fourth quarter. Abner’s layup triggered the run while Connor Farmer continued his impressive play by knocking down three consecutive shots.
South Laurel (18-6) opened the fourth quarter with a 6-0 run that cut its deficit to 33-29 with 3:46 left in regulation. A basket by Jones followed with baskets by Reed and Anders allowed the Cardinals to get back into the game but Connor Farmer has an answer again with another basket to push his team ahead 35-29 with just over two minutes left. South Laurel was able to cut its deficit to two points with under a minute to go but Clay County was able to get the job done from the free-throw line to wrap-up the win.
“I’m so proud of this bunch,” Davis said. “I hate it for Micah. He has been the ultimate leader. He’s the most unselfish kid I’ve ever coached at any level. If you want to look at what a true teammate is, it’s Micah. This bunch has come a long way.
“I’m beyond proud of what we’ve accomplished. I believe a lot of people doubted us and a lot of people wrote us off. A lot of coaches and people made jokes about us that we weren’t very good, but this has been the truest example of a team.”
13th Region Boys Tournament At The Arena Quarterfinals
Clay County 39, South Laurel 35
Clay County 11 10 12 6 39
South Laurel 6 8 9 12 35
Clay County (39) — Abner 6, Robinson 9, C. Farmer 20, Garrison 2, T. Farmer 2.
South Laurel (35) — Anders 14, Smith 2, England 3, Jones 6, Payne 6, Reed 4.