Trailing by one point with a little more than a minute left, South Laurel needed a big play to keep its season going.
Junior guard Jared Grubb delivered.
Grubb got the ball on a well-drawn-up inbounds play from the baseline and immediately fired off a three-point shot from the corner. It was good, and South Laurel never trailed again in a 53-50 nail-biter of a victory over Christian County in the first round of the Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Boys’ Sweet Sixteen on Thursday.
“It doesn’t surprise me with Jared,” said South Laurel Coach Jeff Davis. “It’s the same thing with our guys all year. We’ve answered runs, we’ve answered things. In the past couple of years, we would’ve folded, probably, and found a way to lose those games.
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“This year, it seems like we’ve worked really, really hard to try and figure out how to finish games. … To have that big shot was huge.”
In the minutes before Grubb’s three-pointer, the Cardinals (28-6) had squandered a 44-38 advantage against Christian County, which turned up its full-court press late in the game to force turnovers, go on a 9-2 run and take its first lead since early in the third quarter.
Colonels senior guard Tyrik Edwards made a layup with 1:56 left to cap that run and put Christian County ahead 47-46. The layup was the result of South Laurel’s fourth turnover in 94 seconds.
We just weren’t very good on offense today.In the end, they just played better than us. Bottom line.
Christian County Coach Frankie Smith
The Cardinals scored the game’s next six points — starting with Grubb’s three — but the Colonels (29-3) still had a chance.
Roland Butler made a three-pointer with 17 seconds left to cut South Laurel’s lead to 52-50, and Grubb — who scored 16 of his 20 points and made all three of his three-pointers in the second half — missed the second of two free throws to leave the door open at the end.
Trailing 53-50, the Colonels got two good looks from deep in the final seconds. Both drew iron but failed to fall.
That summed up the afternoon for Christian County, which was one of the state’s best offensive teams all season long but struggled in Rupp Arena. The Colonels came into the game ranked among the top three teams in the state in points per game (76.8) and field-goal percentage (52.5).
They fell well short of their scoring average, shot just 36.8 percent from the field and didn’t make a three-pointer until Edwards connected with 3:16 remaining. The Colonels were 2-for-12 from long range on the day.
Edwards had 26 points, five rebounds and six steals. He was 12-for-18 from the field. His teammates were a combined 9-for-39.
“We just weren’t very good on offense today,” said Christian County Coach Frankie Smith. “In the end, they just played better than us. Bottom line.”
South Laurel (28-6) vs. South Oldham-Owensboro Catholic winner
When: 8 p.m. Friday