By DOUG EADS, CJ Correspondent
For a senior laden Pulaski County Lady Maroon team, the future is right now, just a little over a week away from post-season play.
However on Wednesday night at The PC Gym in a big-time district game against Rockcastle County, Brian Miller's club proved the future is also very bright indeed for Pulaski County as well.
Facing a Lady Rocket team with a three-seed for the district tourney on the line for Pulaski County, Miller didn't like what he saw early from his team - a quick 8-2 deficit.
To that end, the PC coach replaced his starting five with the youngsters off of his bench along with senior Andrea Jenkins with 4:36 remaining in the first quarter, and the PC reserves got the job done.
The Lady Maroons bench outscored the starters on Wednesday night 32-19, but it wouldn't be enough to overcome a fourth-quarter rally by Rockcastle County, as the Lady Rockets escaped PC with a 54-51 victory over the Lady Maroons.
Pulaski County's starting five played very sparingly on the night, logging only 4:31 of playing time in the first half of play, and they didn't start in the second half either.
So coach Miller, what was the message you were sending to your club by playing your reserves for the majority of the night in a pivotal district game?
"Our young kids played extremely well tonight and I was very pleased with their effort," stated the PC coach, after his club fell to 10-16 on the season with the loss.
"I was pleased with the way they played defensively tonight," added Miller. "We gave Rockcastle County 10 points in the first two minutes of the game, and then held them to 11 points for the remainder of the half. That was a big lift we got from those young kids, and that was a big confidence booster for them."
Early on, Rockcastle County grabbed that quick 8-2 lead, but behind the play of the PC bench that lead slowly evaporated.
A steal by Jeriah Privett and assist to Taryn Davis for a layup gave the Lady Maroons their first lead of the night late in the first half at 18-17, forcing Rockcastle County to call a timeout.
Davis led PC in scoring with 11 points in the game, and with her play along with senior Andrea Jenkins, and the rest of the PC reserves - Eulah Perkins, Kayelee Hudson, and Peytn Ingram - the Lady Maroons had fought back to tie things up with The Rock at 21-21 at the intermission.
"I thought we did a real good job with the young one defensively," said Miller. "They rotated over, and made it hard for Rockcastle to score at times."
"I can't say it was all the young kids, because Andrea (Jenkins) is a senior who came off the bench and she really well tonight for us too," pointed out the PC coach.
Pulaski County - with the reserves starting the second half - kicked things off with a quick, 8-0 run, taking a 29-21 lead over Rockcastle County in the third frame.
However, the Lady Rockets behind the play of Michaela Hunter would roar back.
Rockcastle County, after falling behind by that 29-21 margin, would end the third stanza on a 9-2 run, with Hunter leading the way back, scoring 16 of her game-high 25 points in the second half.
Meanwhile, needing five points to join the 1,000-point club, Pulaski County's Haley Warren had not scored until the fourth quarter, but the senior guard came to life at crunch time for the Lady Maroons.
Haley Warren made back to back treys early in the fourth quarter giving her club a 44-39 lead midway through the fourth quarter, only to see The Rock fight back again.
"I can't say enough about Haley Warren and the job she's done here in her five years and what she's meant to our program," pointed out coach Miller.
"I was extremely glad that she got her 1,000th point tonight, and I wish it would have came in a victory," added the PC coach.
Trailing PC by that 44-39 margin, Rockcastle County went on a run of its own - an 11-0 spurt to take a 50-44 lead over PC, with Hunter scoring that final six Lady Rocket points during that flurry.
However, Haley Warren then hit her third three-pointer of the night, trimming the deficit to 50-47, helping the Lady Maroons to stay within striking distance of Rockcastle County.
After Sara Adams' two free throws extended the lead out to 52-47, Brittany Warren's driving layup trimmed the deficit to 52-49, but Rockcastle County's Adams would hit a pair of free throws with :10 left to seal the win for the Lady Rockets, sending PC to a four-seed in the upcoming 47th District Tournament.
"Are we going to get it together before the year is over, that's the question," stated Miller.
"We've kind of been waiting for that light bulb to go off, because we've got some pretty good players," continued the PC coach. "But, at the same time, when you go out there scoring 60 to 65 points a game, but you're giving up 75 or 80, you're not going to win. And, that's been our Achilles Heel all year long."
PC will return to action tomorrow night, as the Lady Maroons will be hosting the annual Cancer Awareness Classic.
There will be six games tomorrow at the event at Pulaski County High School, beginnng at 1 p.m. when Wayne County faces Garrard County.
In other games tomorrow at PC, Richmond Model will face McCreary Central, Rockcastle County will take on Corbin, while Danville will meet up with Southwestern, Somerset will face Harlan County, and the day will conclude when the host Lady Maroons will face Green County.
Proceeds from tomorrow's event will go to the American Cancer Society.
RC - 14 7 11 22 - 54
PC - 12 9 10 20 - 51
ROCKCASTLE CO. - Hunter 25, Adams 11, Miller 8, Reynolds 8, Eversole 2.
PULASKI CO. - Davis 11, H. Warren 9, Perkins 8, Jenkins 7, B. Warren 6, Hudson 4, Correll 4, Ingram 2.