The Knox Central Panthers hit one of the toughest, if not the toughest, portions of their schedule this week as they played host to the second and first-best teams in the 13th Region, in the Clay County Tigers and the South Laurel Cardinals.
Two days after falling to Clay County, the Panthers suffered a similar fate at the hand of region-leading South Laurel, 71-57.
Knox Central was led by Javonte Turner with 22 points. He was followed by Zach Patterson with 20, Kevionte Turner with 10, Isaac Mills with three and Colby Elliot with two.
The Cardinals were led by Matt Cromer with 29 points. He was followed by Brett Norvell with 16, Micah Anders with 15, Alex Hostettler with five, Parker Payne with two, Weslyn Wright with two and Caden Jones with one.
South Laurel limited Knox Central to just six points in the opening frame, allowing them to maintain a 12-point lead at the first buzzer.
The trend continued as each teams traded buckets in the second half, leaving the Cardinals with an 11-point advantage over the Panthers at the half.
South Laurel poured on 25 points in the third quarter, but Knox Central battled back to within five points with just over four minutes remaining in the final frame. However, the Cardinals connected on some big shots down the stretch, as well as free throws, allowing them to post a 14-point victory.
With the loss, Knox Central moved to 17-7 on the season. They will take on Cordia on Feb. 15 on the road.
With the victory, South Laurel improved to 23-4 on the year. They are slated to take on Madison Central Feb. 17 at home.