Lady Cards coast past Jackson County

CORBIN—The South Laurel Lady Cardinal are moving into the final four of the 13th Region Tournament after surviving the Jackson County Lady Generals 62-37 on Monday night.

“They were focused. The key was on offense tonight. We made the extra pass. We would pass it to girls who were open,” South Laurel coach Jon Walker said.

Once South Laurel got their offense moving with a 21-point first quarter, there was no stopping it against Jackson County.

“We got confidence in all of our guards shooting the ball,” Walker added. “Then Dianna Morgan is such a force inside you have to pay attention to her and it opens up a lot for our guards. We got confidence in anybody shooting open shots. As long as we make the extra pass we should be fine.”

The Lady Generals found themselves with one lead in the first quarter halfway through at 3:40, but Taylor Cromer took the lead back on a corner 3 to make 11-9.

Taya Davis tied the game at 11 for Jackson County, but a basket from Dianna Morgan 11 seconds later grabbed the lead for South for the rest of the game.

Morgan added four more points on her own six-point run with two baskets off her own offensive boards.

“She was the anchor on our defense. It gives our guards a lot of freedom to gamble,” Walker shared. “She did a good job tonight of moving and staying on her toes and really controlled the paint, and they are such a physical team it was good to have that presence inside tonight.”

Amerah Steele made the second 3-pointer of her total five on the night to wrap up the first quarter 21-11. Steele led the Lady Cardinals Monday night with 28 points.

“She’s special. The key was when we made the extra pass tonight, it always ended up in her hands and that’s fine,” Walker shared on Steele.

“She can explode like that. She was shooting great shots, not just good shots, great shots. She got herself going early, and once she got herself making shots, her defensive effort picked up, she started rebounding a little better and everything was just clicking for her tonight.”

The second quarter had some loss of energy from the Lady Cardinals, only turning out nine points, but they still maintained a 30-19 lead at the half.

“Our focus was not that great in the second quarter, but our effort picked up in the second half and they closed it out,” Walker commented. “They are a good team, and they play extremely hard. If you don’t bring your best effort against them they make you pay for it.”

Steele began the second half with another one of her threes towards her game-leading 28 points, which Jackson answered with their own three points on a basket and free throw.

Ally Collett started a nine-point run with an inside shot, which Morgan and Steele rounded out for a 20-point lead, 42-22 at 3:57 in the third.

“I thought we did a good job of keeping the tempo up-paced and that was the goal,” Walker said.

Steele broke up Davis’ points with a basket off an assist from Cromer. Davis and Amber Creech tried to keep the Lady Generals alive, but Steele and Mariah Anders added back-to-back three-pointers within the same minute to extend themselves to a 25-point lead.

Collett added a layup and Steele a jumper to finish up the 24-point third quarter on a 54-28 lead.

The Lady Generals scored 9-8 over the Lady Cardinals in the fourth quarter, but South Laurel’s early offensive effort earned them the ticket into the final four.

South Laurel faces Harlan County on Friday at 6 p.m. in the semifinal round. The last time these two teams met was early in the regular season at the WYMT Mountain Classic, where the Lady Bears claimed victory 75-64.

“They are a very good team,” Walker said of Harlan County. “The main key is we have to limit our turnovers and rebound the ball. They force a lot of turnovers and they are such a good rebounding team you can’t give them something they can turn into points. That will be our focus the next few days.”

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South Laurel 62, Jackson County 37

Jackson County 11 8 9 9-37

South Laurel 21 9 24 8-62

JACKSON COUNTY (37) — Al. Creech 2, Mulligan 5, Am. Creech 3, Davis 24, Vickers 3.

SOUTH LAUREL (62) — Steele 28, Collett 7, Cromer 3, Anders 7, Morgan 13, Williams 2, Howard 2.