Jan. 5—The South Laurel Cardinals turned in one of their most impressive performances of the season with a 57-48 win over the three-time defending 13th Region champs Knox Central Panthers on Tuesday night.
It was a matchup between two of the strongest defensive teams in the region. Entering the game, Knox Central was allowing a mere 47 points per contest to their opponents, while the Cardinals were giving up 52 points. South Laurel continued that trend, holding the Panthers to just 48 points on the night.
While Knox Central was without star guard Jevonte Turner, the Panthers are still one of the most talented teams in the region, led by Gavin Chadwell and Isaac Mills.
Coach Jeff Davis said while Chadwell and Mills presented problems for the Cardinals throughout the night, he thought his team did a good job of playing consistent for the full game.
"They were without Jevonte tonight, but they are still really good and played really well. Chadwell and Mills were both beasts inside and each gave us trouble," said Davis. "We hadn't been playing consistent for four quarters, but I thought we put four quarters together tonight and stayed focused with our game plan both offensively and defensively."
Parker Payne came up as the difference maker on offense for the Cardinals. After South Laurel took a 13-11 lead at the end of the first quarter, Payne went off for nine of his team-high 20 points in the second. Behind Payne's effort, the Cardinals were up 28-19 at the half.
Davis said he was happy to see Payne get into a rhythm on Tuesday.
"Parker is getting more and more in a rhythm and not trying to force things. Sometimes when we go through a lull, he feels like we has to get us buckets and he tends to overdo it a little," said Davis. "Tonight I thought he let the game come to him and allowed his teammates to help him."
South Laurel locked down the Panthers' offense in the third quarter and was able to maintain their lead. Brayden Reed scored five points for the Cardinals in the third and Ayden Smith knocked down a big three-point shot to help South Laurel to the 40-31 lead heading into the fourth.
Eli Gover came out and connected on two three-pointers in the fourth quarter and the Cardinals went nine-of-12 from the free throw line to help seal the win down the stretch, taking the 57-48 win.
Davis said he thought the win was a complete team effort against the Panthers.
"We used our bigs tonight and our bench really stepped up for us," said Davis. "That took pressure off of Parker on offense. I thought overall we played well."
Payne led South Laurel with 20 points on the night. Mills finished with 15 for the Panthers, followed by Chadwell with 14.
With the win, South Laurel improved to 12-3 on the season. They'll return to action on Saturday, taking on Bell County in the Raymond Reed Classic at home.
South Laurel 57, Knox Central 48
South Laurel 13 15 12 17 — 57
Knox Central 11 8 12 17 — 48
South Laurel (57) — Payne 20, Caden Jones 7, Reed 7, Jordan Mabe 5, Smith 5, Ashton Garland 6, Gover 6, Jeremy Steele 1
Knox Central (48) — Mills 15, Chadwell 14, KT Turner 10, Abe Brock 6, Bryce Imel 2, Landon Mills 1