After dropping both regular season games to arch-rival Somerset during the regular season — the second being a gut-wrenching two-point loss at the buzzer — could the third time be the charm for the Pulaski County Lady Maroons when it mattered the most, in the opening round of the Girl’s 47th District Basketball Tournament?
Could Pulaski County take advantage of a huge opportunity to punch its ticket to next week’s Girl’s 12th Regional Tournament with a win over its arch-rival?
Simply put, no they couldn’t.
Tarah Muntz’ club — surpassing just about everybody’s expectations this season by posting an 18-11 record in the regular season — threw that opportunity away last night against its arch-rival — literally.
Somerset forced PC into 27 turnovers at Casey County High School in the opening round of the Girl’s 47th District Tournament, and got a game-high 21 points from Virginia Scott in the process.
As a result, it was Somerset punching its ticket to the regional tourney for the second year in a row, thanks to Tuesday night’s 57-45 win over the Lady Maroons.
“When we do not take care of the ball, we obviously do not have a possession on offense, so we missed out on 27 possessions tonight,” lamented Muntz, after her PC squad finished the season with an 18-12 mark.
“That’s 27 possessions on offense that we didn’t even have a chance to score in this game,” continued Muntz. “When you don’t take care of the ball, you simply don’t give yourself a chance to be successful.”
Pulaski County — despite throwing the ball all over the gymnasium — was able to stay within striking distance of Somerset early on, only trailing the Lady Jumpers by a 28-22 margin at the intermission.
In the third period however, that’s when Erin Walker’s club went to work by throwing and landing the knockout punch against PC.
And it was the tandem of Scott, along with sophomore Brynlee Bigelow leading the way.
Bigelow scored Somerset’s first six points of the third stanza, thanks to an old-fashioned three-point play as well as a three-point basket, while Scott completed an and one opportunity of her own.
Scott’s three-point play gave the Lady Jumpers their biggest lead of the night at that juncture over PC — 37-24 — and the Lady Maroons were in some big-time trouble.
“We had 21 steals tonight, and when you can do that for a game you know you’re playing some pretty good defense,” stated a very happy coach Walker in the Somerset locker room after the contest.
“We pride ourselves on our defense — we’ve got Maranda (Mills) and Brynlee (Bigelow) at the top of our defense and they’re just so stinking athletic,” continued coach Walker. “They’re probably the two most athletic people in the region.”
With Pulaski County being snake-bitten all night with the turnover bug, Somerset continued to pull the lead out on the Lady Maroons.
With Bigelow scoring 12 of her 14 points in the third stanza, the Lady Jumpers were able to gain full control of the contest, outscoring PC by a 21-12 margin in the quarter.
Bigelow’s steal and driving layup late in the period gave Somerset it’s biggest lead of the night at that point — 45-28 — and the Lady Jumpers were never really threatened again in this one, stretching the lead out to as much as 18 points.
As for Muntz, the PC coach admitted that she was very disappointed at the way her club’s season came to an abrupt end with last night’s loss, but she firmly believes there are much brighter days ahead for her program, and those days are right around the corner.
“Our team came to work every day and worked hard, and they tried to improve every day,” pointed out the Pulaski County coach.
“I think when you get kids to buy in to working hard, getting better, and just thinking positive and having energy, having fun while they’re playing — I think that goes a long way,” Muntz stated. “The sky’s the limit. We can’t lose sight for what got us 18 wins this year and what got us to this point.”
Pulaski County was led by Eulah Perkins in last night’s loss, as she was the lone Lady Maroon player in double figures with 10 points.
Somerset meanwhile was paced by Scott, who poured in a game-high 21 points, followed by Bigelow with 14 points, and 11 from Maranda Mills.
The Lady Jumpers — 14-13 on the season — advance to Friday night’s championship game of the 47th District Tournament, where they will meet up against the homestanding Casey County Lady Rebels, who defeated Rockcastle County in last night’s first game by a final score of 50-36.
In the two previous meetings this season, both the Lady Rebels and Lady Jumpers won on the other’s home court, making Friday night’s game the rubber match in the series, and a game for all the marbles inside the 47th District.
Walker for one, says her club is up for the challenge of trying to knock off Casey for the second time this season on the Lady Rebels home floor.
“It’s always a good game when we play Casey County, and we match up really well with them,” stated Walker.
“Obviously, they want to win a championship game for him (Randy Salyers), because it’s his last year with them, and my girls want to win one for me,” added the Somerset coach. “On our goal list way back from day one last summer was to win a district title and make it to Diddle Arena. Now, we’re on our way.”
Tip off for Friday night’s championship game between Somerset and Casey County is set to get underway at 7 p.m. from Casey County High School.
PC — 13 9 10 13 — 45
SHS — 16 12 21 8 — 57
Pulaski Co. — Perkins 10, Ingram 9, Davis 9, McDonald 8, McCollum 4, Privett 3, Lowery 2.
Somerset — Scott 21, Bigelow 14, Mills 11, Brooks 9, Vaught 2.