Maroons top Jumpers 71-63 in earlier-than-expected clash
By MICHAEL CHILDERS, CJ Correspondent Commonwealth Journal
Pulaski County and Somerset were not scheduled to have their first meeting of the 2013-14 season until Friday, January 3.
After both the Maroons and the Briar Jumpers lost their games on Saturday evening, that set up a Sunday afternoon showdown in the Lake Cumberland Holiday Hoops Classic.
And what a showdown it was on Sunday at the Briar Patch.
Paced by a strong fourth quarter, the visiting Maroons would earn a 71-63 victory over Somerset to move to 7-2 on the season. The Jumpers, meanwhile, fell to 6-6 on the year with the 8-point loss to their cross-town rival.
After three quarters in the books, the Maroons held a 3-point, 49-46 lead over Somerset.
Pulaski County had the momentum swinging in their favor to begin the quarter, but a technical foul against the Maroons would allow Somerset to shrink the lead to 5 points at 55-50 with 5:13 left in the contest.
With 3:19 remaining in the game, Pulaski County’s Austin Clark got a basket to widen the gap to 59-50. Powell, with 2:46 left to play, went 2 of 2 from the charity stripe to cut the Maroon lead to 59-54.
Jake Johnson and Powell both traded lay-ups near the 2-minute mark to keep the margin at 5 points. The Maroons would close the game out at the free-throw line, meaning 5 points would be as close as the Jumpers got.
Maroon head coach Al Gover was happy to see his team overcome some adversity to earn a victory in a tough gym such as the Briar Patch.
“I was very proud of my team today,” told Gover. “I was really proud of the way we came on the road and beat a good Somerset team – it’s tough to win here. We had some momentum there, then a couple of things happened that changed the momentum. After a little adversity, the kids gathered themselves and pulled out the victory.”
Jeff Cothron, the head coach of the Briar Jumpers, knows that his team has tired legs, but he noted that his team was out rebounded by the Maroons, which made a big difference in the outcome of the contest.
“It looked like our third game in three days,” said Cothron. “I thought we played pretty hard. I’m not going to blame it on tired legs because they played three games in three days, too. We got outrebounded significantly, which was a big difference in the game. There was a little bit of match-up problem at times for us. They hurt us in the middle against our zone.”
Even though he has a young squad, Cothron understands that he will have plenty of time to get things situated before tournament action gets underway in mid-February.
“We had a lot of opportunities and missed a lot of bunnies,” said the Jumper basketball coach. “That’s just the sign of a young team. Hopefully, we will sure that up before the end of the year.”
The Maroons led after each frame in this one, leading 16-14 after the opening quarter, 31-30 following two quarters, and 49-46 after three periods in the books.
Sean Ross, of Pulaski County, scored a contest-high 21 points on the afternoon. Clark chimed in with 15 points, while Burton had 14 points and Peyton Gover finished with 10 points.
“The guards did a good job of taking care of the ball today,” said the Maroon hoops coach. “I thought Sean Ross became a man tonight – I thought that he went after it. Jake Johnson played well off the bench, getting some tough rebounds for us at the end of the game.”
Somerset was led in scoring by Tyler Dishman, who scored 14 points. Powell chimed in with 13 points, while Chandler Purcell (11 points) and Ryan Dishman (10 points) finished in double figures for the Jumpers.
Somerset returned to action last night, squaring off against George Rogers Clark at the Wigwam in their final game of the Lake Cumberland Holiday Hoops Classic. Pulaski County, in their remaining contest of the tournament, hosted Louisville Doss.
Look for game stories from Monday night’s local games in Wednesday’s edition of the Commonwealth Journal.
PC – 16 15 18 22 – 71
SHS – 14 16 16 17 – 63
PULASKI COUNTY (7-2): Ross 21, Clark 15, Burton 14, Gover 10, Johnson 8, Hall 2, Ridner 1.