Dogged perseverance was the key to Laurens Academy’s girls’ basketball victory over W.W. King, 23-11, but the boys lost control in the fourth quarter and fell to the Knights, 44-28, on Friday night at LA.
The girls’ victory was rather sparse.
The Crusaders pulled away from the Knights slowly but steadily, leading quarter-by-quarter by margins of 4-0, 10-7, 14-10 and escaping into the distance at the end.
King went scoreless in the first quarter, tallied 3 points in the third and 1 in the fourth.
“Defensively, you can’t complain,” head coach Jason Marlett said. “We got good looks, but shots rattled out. We have to do a better job shooting the ball.
“We’re just trying to improve every day. It’s just a fundamental thing right now.”
LA’s Olivia Huck almost outscored King by herself, but her 10 points were rather slapdash. She hit 3 of 18 shots, one of which was a 3-pointer, and all 3 free throws.
Payton Breen hit 1-6 from the floor, 5-6 from the line, and scored 7. Elissa Hucks added 4 points and Rylee Ballard 2.
In a game they won by 12 points, the Crusaders, on the one hand, connected on 7-34 field goals (.206) but, on the other, 8-10 free throws. Laurens Academy (5-6, 1-0 region) outrebounded the Knights, 30-18, and after committing 11 turnovers in the first quarter, held on to the ball for all but 9 possessions the rest of the way. King’s 21 turnovers were more consistently spaced by quarters: 5, 6, 3 and 7.
Ashlyn Dowling, who led King (0-3, 0-2) with 6 points, was 2-of-14 from the field. As a team, the Knights were 4-of-28 (.143).
King (3-2, 2-0) didn’t put the LA boys (4-7, 0-1) away until the fourth quarter, a disastrous eight minutes for the home team. The Knights outscored the Crusaders 14-2. LA did not secure a rebound in the period.
For the night, King outrebounded Laurens Academy, 31-17.
“We had to pick our tempo up,” head coach Travis Plowden said. “We had some bad turnovers. We were just not very fluid in the fourth quarter. We had to apply some pressure defensively, and King did an excellent job of hitting their open guys. In the second quarter, we had major, major foul troubles.”
The second quarter was a 7-7 standoff, but the Crusaders suffered two technical fouls, both a bit on the weird side. A referee mistakenly thought an exchange between Thomas Lowry and Plowden was directed at him. The ref later expunged Lowry’s offense from the scorebook, but it was small consolation since it cost LA two free throws and a possession with 2:17 remaining in the half.
The latter technical foul, just 1:24 later, was even stranger. Clarence Bertoli limped around for several possessions, then dashed off the court and was replaced by another player who had not bothered to check in.
Only two players – Diamonte Grant with 20 and Lowry with 8 – scored for the Crusaders. Grant hit 6-of-15 shots; Lowry, 4-11. As a team, LA converted 10-of-33 field goals (.303) and 6-of-9 free throws.
King shot 15-35 (.456) and 10-16 (.625), respectively.
For all that, King led by only four entering the final quarter, which turned into a nightmare. The Knights repeatedly exploited LA’s frantic defensive efforts with a series of snazzy passes. Meanwhile, LA’s hurried possessions were just as frantic and hardly involved any passes at all.
The chief beneficiary of the Knights' 4th-quarter success was Colten List, who sank all 5 of his shots in the period and scored 10 of his 12 points. Trevor Fulmer scored 11. Tyler List and Collin Woodward chipped in 8 each.