By DOUG EADS, CJ Correspondent
In just one night, the Somerset Briar Jumpers brought two streaks to a screeching halt while throwing a big-time monkey wrench into the final 47th District standings.
On Tuesday night at The Briar Patch, Jeff Cothron’s club was able to accomplish something that hadn’t been done in exactly four years and six days — beat Pulaski County.
Somerset played arguably its best game of the season last night, and did something that hadn’t been done since February 6th, 2009, and that was sending the Maroons down to a loss.
The Jumpers led Pulaski County from wire to wire last night, on its way to an impressive, 78-64 victory over the Maroons.
Tyson Williams scored a game-high 24 points, while Ryan Dishman chipped in with 21, helping Somerset move to 16-8 on the year and to 5-1 in district play.
“This is a nice win and it’s a good win, but the most important thing for us is playing with consistency and playing our best basketball at this time of the year,” stated a very happy coach Cothron immediately following last night’s victory.
“To put the Wayne County game with tonight’s performance against PC is pretty consistent, and that’s what we’re looking for against good teams,” continued the SHS coach. “We definitely feel better about things than we did two games ago, when we were in the middle of a three-game losing slide. The last two games may have been the best two games that we’ve played all year.”
Somerset never trailed PC in last night’s game, racing out to a quick 10-3 lead from the outset, forcing Maroon head coach Al Gover to take an early time out.
The Maroons were able to stay relatively close to the Jumpers early on, thanks to the outside shooting of Taylor Gover and the inside presence of Spencer Laign.
Laign led the Maroons with 14 points, while Gover scored 13 — all coming in the first half — on the strength of four three-point baskets.
Still, even with Gover’s prolific shooting from downtown, Somerset methodically built its lead up to double digits, leading the Maroons by a 46-31 margin at the intermission.
PC came into last night’s game having not lost to Somerset since that February game way back in 2009, which came in Mark Flynn’s last year at the helm of the PC program.
Since that game — a 53-51 Somerset win — this rivalry had been totally one sided, colored in maroon.
PC’s senior class had never lost to the Jumpers, having won nine games in a row over Somerset — that streak ended last night.
PC’s senior class had reeled off 24 consecutive wins against 47th District foes — that streak ended last night as well.
And with last night’s win over the Maroons, Somerset finished the district portion of its schedule with a 5-1 record, identical to Pulaski County’s district mark, forcing a coin flip to be held today at the 47th District Tournament meeting, which will decide the one-seed for next week’s tourney.
As one might imagine, Pulaski County head coach Al Gover was not a happy coach at all after last night’s disappointing loss to the Briar Jumpers.
“They beat us in every facet of the game, from start to finish — they beat us and they beat us bad,” stated a dejected Gover after the game.
“That’s just the way it is — we have no excuses — Somerset is just the best team in the district,” added the PC coach. “We were pathetic tonight at the defensive end and they were great. We just couldn’t guard them, period. They won loose balls, they won hustle, they won effort — they won it all because they obviously wanted this game more than we did.”
Trailing Somerset by that 46-31 margin at the half, Pulaski County was never able to cut the deficit down to single digits in the second half.
Williams played like a man possessed down in the paint, and for good measure, the senior forward hit his first three-pointer of the season helping halt any momentum the Maroons were attempting to get.
Dishman meanwhile added 21 points, while Ryan Weddle added 10 points while pulling down a game-high 13 rebounds.
Pulaski County’s Kody Johnson scored 10 of his 13 points in the second half in an attempt to bring his club back from the dead, but on this particular night, the Briar Jumpers were not going to be denied.
“The kids are really starting to understand the offense with what we’re doing,” stated Cothron.
“We’re playing really well together inside-outside, and when you’re doing that with all five players out there being a threat to score, then that makes you a pretty lethal team,” added the Briar Jumper coach.
So coach, what about ending the losing streak to PC?
“That stuff is more for the media to talk about, but I care for our program,” said Cothron. “This was a big win for our program, because it had been a while since Somerset had beaten PC. To have the caliber of team that PC’s got, this is a big win for us. We’ve been telling our kids all along that Pulaski County is as good as anybody in this region.”
Somerset — 16-8 on the year — will close out the regular season with senior night tomorrow evening at The Briar Patch, when the Jumpers will host the winless Riverside Christian Rams, who will bring an 0-29 record into that contest.
For PC meanwhile, the task at hand certainly doesn’t get any easier for the Maroons.
Gover and company — 20-6 on the year — will close out the regular season tomorrow evening on the road against another 12th Regional contender, as PC will travel to West Jessamine to take on the Colts.
For Gover, a sense of urgency and the willingness to dig in and reach his team’s ultimate goal of winning a regional championship is right now — there are no tomorrow’s in the PC camp, coming off last night’s abysmal performance against Somerset.
“This game was not good for a senior-dominated team at this time of the year to come over here and look like that,” stated a very unhappy coach Gover.
“That’s just not good — I don’t know — we may come out of it and we may not,” Gover added. “We’ll see here in the next day or two.”
So coach Gover, what do you do to get things fixed, and quickly?
“You go back to work tomorrow,” pointed out the PC coach. “We’ll work them harder than we did the day before. We didn’t work extremely hard tonight, so we’ll work hard tomorrow at practice.”
The Boy’s 47th District will tip off next Tuesday night at Somerset High School.
Look for the pairings for both the boy’s and girl’s tournaments, as well as game times later this week in The Commonwealth Journal.
PC 12 19 14 19 – 64
SHS 20 26 13 19 – 78
PULASKI (20-6) — Laign 14, Johnson 13, Gover 13, Goins 7, Ross 7, Burton 4, Lorman 3, Hall 3.
SOMERSET (16-8) — Williams 24, R. Dishman 21, Cheuvront 15, Weddle 10, Farris 4, Gordon 4.