DOWN TO THE WIRE: Mabe's block at the buzzer allows South Laurel to secure 66-65 road win over Knox Central

·3 min read

Dec. 17—BARBOURVILLE — The South Laurel Lady Cardinals traveled to Barbourville on Thursday night and showed why they are still the team to beat in the 13th Region.

As back-to-back defending regional champions, the Lady Cardinals took a close game to the wire and finished it off with a 66-65 win against a Knox Central squad that entered the game undefeated.

South Laurel coach Chris Souder has been clear since he took over the Lady Cardinal program a few years back. His team will play top competition in the regular season because the only thing that matters is the district, regional, and state tournament.

Souder said that the win over the Lady Panthers was a big step for his team against one of the best teams in the region.

"It was a good win tonight," Souder said. "It was just a really good high school basketball game with two good teams."

Souder's squad entered Thursday night with two losses on its resume, but a balanced effort on the offensive end of the court powered the Lady Cardinals to the victory when a free throw from Clara Collins dropped through the net with 8.9 seconds left in the game.

Collins scored 16 points in the win on Thursday. The Lady Cardinals also got big games from eighth-grader Skeeter Mabe and junior Emily Cox in the win. Mabe finished with a team-high 19 points, while Cox added 13.

It was the shooting of Mabe, Cox, and Corbin Miller that helped South Laurel jump out to a big 23-15 lead after the first quarter. Mabe and Cox each scored seven in the opening period, while Miller knocked down a big three-point basket and scored five points.

"Skeeter and Emily played really well tonight. We also got crucial minutes from Corbin Miller," said Souder. "Her (Corbin) and Emily really sparked us at the beginning of the game."

Knox Central battled back in the second quarter after the Lady Cardinals went cold on offense. South Laurel knocked down just four field goals during the period and the Lady Panthers heated up, taking a 33-32 advantage into the half.

After both teams went back-and-forth in the third quarter, the game came down to who made the most winning plays in the fourth quarter. Fortunately for the Lady Cardinals, Clara Collins was on their side. The sophomore came through in the clutch 11 points down the stretch, including two big three-pointers and the game-winning free throw, as South Laurel went on to win the game.

Souder credited Collins for her performance.

"We didn't' play great but we found a way to win," said Souder. "Clara really had a great fourth quarter. Gracie (Turner) was just a beast off the bench and her energy is so contagious. It was a good tough game that you learn a lot from and nice to get a win to go with it."

South Laurel 66, Knox Central 65

South Laurel 23 9 14 20 66

Knox Central 15 18 13 19 65

South Laurel (66) — Mabe 19, Collins 16, Cox 13, Miller 7, Turner 6, Presley 3, Clem 2

Knox Central (65) — Partin 23, Collins 16, C. Mills 8, E. Mills 10, Jones 3, Frederick 3, Liford 2

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