Dec. 29—The South Laurel Cardinals staved off a late rally from Bracken County to pick up their first win in the Gateway Holiday Classic at Montgomery County on Tuesday.
The Cardinals were up 30-19 going into the fourth, but a flurry of turnovers and a few three-point shots from the Polar Bears put Bracken County back in the game down the stretch.
South Laurel Coach Jeff Davis said he was happy with the way his team played, especially on the defensive end, through the first three quarters, but they had too many turnovers in the game's final period.
"Well, it was 30-19 going into the fourth and we won 42-40," Davis said. "Defensively, we played really well for the first three quarters of the game. Offensively, we were not in sync after coming off of a four-day break. I'm not making excuses, but that's what you get this time of year."
Rhys England was a driving force behind the Cardinals' win. The senior forward had 15 points for South Laurel and came up big on the boards.
Davis said that was the kind of performance they had been looking for out of England.
"I thought Rhys England played unbelievably well tonight. He scored 15 points. He played physically and rebounded the ball well," said Davis. "We have been looking for him to do that. He really kept us in the game and it was good to see."
South Laurel will take on Betsy Layne in the second round of the Classic. The Bobcats are 7-2 on the year and will pose a challenge for the Cardinals, according to Davis.
"Betsy Layne has a really good team," Davis said. 'They are big and play physicals. We need to limit turnovers and play more under control and slow down. We have to take care of the basketball."
South Laurel and Betsy Layne will play at 7:15 p.m. at Montgomery County on Wednesday.