By DOUG EADS, CJ Correspondent
They’re not the top dog in the 47th District just yet.
But, they’re darn sure playing like one.
The Somerset Lady Jumpers gave themselves an opportunity to be the top seed for the upcoming 47th District Tournament later this month, as Erin Walker’s club moved to 5-1 against district opponents for the season last night with a thrilling, come from behind 71-69 win at The Briar Patch against visiting Pulaski County.
Virginia Scott poured in a game-high 36 points which included the game winning shot, thanks to her driving layup with just :01.7 left in the game.
As a result, it was Somerset evening its record to 11-11 on the year and giving Walker and company a chance to be the top seed for the district tourney by sweeping the Lady Maroons this year in an absolute thriller.
“That’s a big win for us, because it means we’ve won two games in a row and it gets us back to .500 on the season,” stated a very happy coach Walker after the game. “And, this win gives us some momentum coming down to the last five or six games that we have left.”
“I don’t even know how long it’s been since Somerset has been a one-seed for the district tourney,” continued the Somerset coach. “It has to have been more than 10 years.”
Thursday night’s win over Pulaski County tied Somerset with Casey County — who will host the 47th District Tournament — as both teams have finished the regular season with 5-1 records in league play.
Those two teams will have a coin flip next week to determine who will get that coveted top seed for the district tourney later this month, but for a moment at least last night, it appeared to be a mute point as the Lady Jumpers were in some big-time trouble very late against the Lady Maroons.
Somerset had raced out to a 12-point lead in the opening half of play, but thanks to the dynamic tandem of Taryn Davis and Peyton Ingram, Pulaski County fought back from the canvas and almost escaped The Briar Patch with a huge win.
Davis — who led PC with 26 points — gave her club its first lead of the night with 5:29 remaining in the third period, as the Lady Maroons pulled in front of Somerset by a 42-41 margin.
There were seven ties and four lead changes between the two clubs in the second half, but even at that, Pulaski County was poised to throw a monkey wrench in Somerset’s district hopes, leading the Lady Jumpers 68-62 with under two minutes left in the contest.
However, Tarah Muntz’ young club couldn’t seal the deal coming down the home stretch and Somerset — with experience on its side — took full advantage.
“We are young and inexperienced, but we’ve now got 23 games under our belts now,” stated Muntz immediately following the game.
“We’ve been in a lot of environments like this one tonight at the end of the game when we’ve had to deal with adversity, and our backs have been against the wall,” stated the PC head coach. “I was proud of the way that we didn’t quit. There were a couple of things late that could have gone either way, and I think that we dug in, and we found a way to compete and found a way to be in the game at the end.”
Pulaski County led Somerset by that 68-62 margin with under two minutes left in the contest, but the Lady Jumpers would fight back, ending the contest with a 9-1 run to come away with the hard-fought 71-69 victory.
Kaitlyn Johnson made some clutch free throws down the stretch during that spurt to pull Somerset within a point of the Lady Maroons at 68-67.
With 1:25 remaining, Scott converted both ends of the one and one to pull the Lady Jumpers out in front of Pulaski, 69-68.
Davis then hit one of two from the line, knotting things up for the final time at 69-69, paving the way for Scott’s last-second heroics.
Walker called a timeout with only :12 left in the game to set up a final play.
Coming out of that timeout, Somerset went to its go-to player.
Scott, made her move to the basket with :05 left, and converted on the layup with only :01.7 remaining in the contest, giving Somerset its final margin of victory at 71-69.
“We’ve been in so many close games this year, and we were finally able to push over the hump tonight and get the victory,” pointed out Walker.
“I was just thinking after tonight’s game that this one reminded me of our game with PC last year that was here,” added Walker. “It was so close and so tight and came right down to the wire, and we wound up losing that one. It was really nice to come out on the winning end of this one tonight.”
Scott led everybody with her game-high 36 points, while teammate Maranda Mills chipped in with 14 points for the victorious Lady Jumpers.
PC meanwhile was led by Davis with 26 points, while Ingram played another solid game for the Lady Maroons chipping in with 19.
Bitterly disappointed with the loss — a defeat that dropped Pulaski County to 14-9 on the season and to 2-4 in district play — Muntz pointed out after last night’s game that her club will be able to take some positives out of the loss, as it gears up for the 47th District Tournament in just over two weeks from now.
“In our first meeting with Somerset this year at our place, I felt like we got down in the second half, and we stopped playing and we stopped fighting,” stated the Lady Maroon coach.
“I really felt like today we could have easily done that, and that’s what I told them right after this game,” remarked Muntz. “We’ve grown from the beginning of January to now. We have to take the positives from this game and build upon them, because I really think we’ll see them (Somerset) again.”
Both Pulaski County and Somerset will return to action tomorrow night with tough games on the road.
The Lady Maroons will travel to Clinton County on Saturday at 6 p.m. to face the Lady Bulldogs, while Somerset will go to the mountains to take on Harlan County at 6:30 p.m.
PC — 13 21 19 16 — 69
SHS — 18 20 18 15 — 71
PULASKI CO. — Davis 26, Ingram 19, McDonald 9, Perkins 6, Privett 4, McCollum 3, Lowery 2.
SOMERSET — Scott 36, Mills 14, Brooks 9, Johnson 6, Bigelow 5, Vaught 1.