Lady Patriots fall to No. 6 South Laurel
STANFORD — State-ranked South Laurel lived up to the pre-season hype Monday night as the team handed host Lincoln County a 75-47 loss at J.C. Eddleman Gymnasium in the season-opener for both teams.
Senior Ally Collett, a Western Kentucky University commit, showed why she is ranked as one of the top players in the state by pouring in a game-high 32 points while draining six 3-pointers as she led the No. 6 Lady Cardinals in the 28-point victory. Senior Amerah Steele, who is going to play for Eastern Kentucky University, followed with 21 points.
South Laurel never trailed in the game, opening on an 8-0 run before posting the win. However, despite the lopsided score, Lincoln kept the game interesting, overcoming a slow start to trim a double-digit deficit to two points in the second quarter then pulling within five points in the third.
“We faced a really, really talented South Laurel team and the score is not indicative of how we played because our girls really battled and fought,” Lincoln County coach Cassandra McWhorter said. “Even with the slow start that we had, we bounced back. We got comfortable. We shook off some jitters after the first quarter and we had it cut to two at one point. We kept creeping back and I’m really proud of how we fought.”
South Laurel and Lincoln both shot about the same percentage-wise from the floor, with the Lady Cardinals going 24-for-63 for the night for 38 percent while the Lady Patriots were 17-for-50 for 34 percent. At the foul line, South Laurel was 13-for-18 and Lincoln 10-for-19. The big scoring difference came from long range as 14 of South Laurel’s 24 buckets were 3-pointers. Lincoln had just three 3s.
“When you give up 14 3-pointers, that’s hard to overcome,” said McWhorter. “And then you turn the ball over 23 times. That’s two hard things to overcome in any game.”
South Laurel finished with just seven turnovers.
Collett scored her first five points of the night in the first minute of action, including draining a game-opening 3-pointer. Sydnie Hall, who had 14 points in the win, also hit from 3 as South Laurel opened the 8-0 lead.
Haleigh Releford, a junior who led Lincoln in scoring with 17 points, interrupted the South Laurel run with her own 3-pointer. Releford’s bucket would be the only shot to fall for the Lady Patriots in the first three minutes of the game, as the Lady Cardinals followed the bucket with five more points to extend their lead to 13-3.
The Lady Cardinals led by as many as 14 points, 19-5, in the first. Lady Pats Savannah Robbins and Haleigh Ellison would tally before the horn sounded on the quarter to make it 19-9.
South Laurel had opened up a 24-11 lead early in the second quarter when the Lincoln offense broke on an 11-0 scoring run to whittle the deficit down to two points. Releford opened the run with a free throw toss then Trinity Shearer, who finished with 10 points, knocked down a 3-pointer. Releford and Ellison would each add a bucket and Talynne Shearer collected a free throw toss before Ally Lynn capped the run with a baseline bucket off a Trinity Shearer assist to make it 24-22 with 3:38 to go in the first half.
Collett ended South Laurel’s scoring drought with a layup with 3:24 on the clock and Steele followed with a trey to push the Lady Cards’ lead back to 29-22.
Lincoln kept the margin to single digits over the remainder of the period before Collett nailed her third 3-pointer to make it 39-29 at the half. Trinity Shearer had eight of her 10 points in the second quarter, adding a driving layup and 3-pointer late in the period.
The Lady Pats were back within five points midway through the third quarter after a 7-2 scoring surge. Releford opened and closed the run with a bucket, Robbins hit inside and Talynne Shearer added a free throw to get Lincoln within 41-36 with 4:17 on the clock.
That would be as close as Lincoln would get. South Laurel outscored Lincoln 34-11 the rest of the way to earn the decisive win.
“Every time we would make a run … South Laurel is a very good team. They’re ranked No. 6 preseason for a reason,” said McWhorter. “Every time we would make a run, they responded and their players stepped up and made some big plays.”
“We missed some easy shots the third quarter. I thought the momentum shifted the third quarter. The momentum was on our side and the crowd was in it. We cut it to five. We just couldn’t get over that hump. Every time we got close, they would make big plays and hit huge shots.”
Lincoln had eight players getting in the scorebook. All five starters scored, with Hailee Reed, Ally Lynn and Lydia Rice each getting two points. The Lady Patriot bench added 14 points, with Ellison the top-scoring reserve with six points.
“There was a lot of positive things to pull from tonight and a lot of things to learn from tonight.” said McWhorter. “It’s Dec. 2. We’ve got 29 more games on our schedule to get better and work out kinks. The key is to keep improving through tournament time.”
At Lincoln Co.
So. Laurel 19 20 15 21 – 75
Lincoln 9 20 7 11 – 47
SOUTH LAUREL (1-0) – Ally Collett 32, Amerah Steele 21, Sydnie Hall 14, Emily Cox 1, Clara Collins 2, Brianna Howard 3, Gracie Turner 2.
LINCOLN (0-1) – Trinity Shearer 10, Haleigh Releford 17, Hailee Reed 2, Ally Lynn 2, Lydia Rice 2, Savannah Robbins 4, Haleigh Ellison 6, Talynne Shearer 4.