By DOUG EADS, CJ Correspondent
For a half at least, the Somerset Briar Jumpers had the ‘inside track’ on a number one seed inside the 47th District, thanks to the ‘inside game’ of seniors Ryan Weddle and Tyson Williams.
Somerset’s two big guys on the low blocks were having their way with homestanding Pulaski County in the first half on Tuesday night, scoring a combined, 16 points to go along with 11 rebounds, helping Jeff Cothron’s club out to a 28-25 lead over the Maroons at the intermission in an all-important game for both clubs.
However, it was at the intermission when Pulaski County got to work.
Al Gover’s club roared back in the third period, outscoring Somerset 24-13 in the frame, taking a 49-41 lead into the fourth quarter.
Taylor Gover scored 14 of his game-high 24 points in the second half, while Kody Johnson netted 22 points for PC, helping the Maroons roar back for a 59-54 win over the Jumpers — a win that gave Pulaski its ninth consecutive victory over Somerset.
So coach Gover, what adjustments did you make at the half?
According to the PC coach, not a single one.
“We simply encouraged our kids to rebound,” stated Gover, who saw his team move to 4-0 in district play and to 17-5 overall with last night’s victory.
“We needed to defend better in the second half, and that’s exactly what we did,” pointed out the Maroons coach. “Somerset had a great game plan, and I knew that was what they were going to do, and I think everybody else knew what they were going to do, and that was to pound the ball down inside to the two big guys. Those guys are good, and they’re a load. And, then (Ryan) Dishman made some shots for them which got them out to a lead forcing us to have to play from behind.”
Somerset — thanks to the inside play of Williams and Weddle — and the hot shooting by Ryan Dishman, led virtually the entire way in the first half.
PC’s lone lead was thanks to the first basket of the game.
After falling behind the Maroons by that 2-0 margin, Somerset scored the next seven points and never relinquished the lead in the opening half of play.
And, other than the scoring down in the post by Williams and Weddle, Somerset was owning the boards over Pulaski County, helping the Jumpers stay out in front of the Maroons.
The Briar Jumpers owned a 14-6 advantage over PC on the glass through one period of play, but the Maroons closed that gap to 20-17 at the intermission.
Much like their second meeting this season with Southwestern, Somerset proved it can indeed play with the powers that be inside the 12th Region.
After his team fell to 14-7 on the year with the loss, by suffering its first defeat to a district opponent this season, Cothron pointed out that he knows his club is close, very close.
For now, the chore at hand in the camp of the purple and gold is to find a way to kick that door down and get a win in one of these rival games.
“They’re (Pulaski County) a veteran ball club with as many seniors as they have, and those seniors are four-year starters as well,” stated the Jumper coach.
“They played with a little more poise and executed a little better down the stretch than we did, and that’s what I told our kids after the game,” continued Cothron. “We’re right there in these big games against quality opponents — we just can’t seem to get over that hump. But, we keep working and these games are not the ones that matter. This is the practice season in order to get ready for the tournament which is when the real season begins. You’ve got to keep you head up. I was really proud of our kids effort tonight and for the most part, our execution as well.”
Trailing Somerset at the half by that 28-25 margin, the Maroons came out and looked like a much different team in the third quarter of play.
After being held to those 25 points in the first half, PC scored almost that many — 24 points — in the third quarter alone.
And, it was the usual suspects that did the damage for the Maroons — Taylor Gover and Kody Johnson.
A Gover putback off a missed shot attempt gave the Maroons a 38-35 lead midway through the third frame, which at that juncture was Pulaski’s biggest lead of the contest.
A Blake Burton three-point basket followed the Gover score, extending the lead out to 41-35.
Another putback off a Maroon missed field goal attempt by Gover eased that lead out to 43-35, before a pair of baskets by Somerset’s Matt Gordon trimmed the deficit down to 43-39 late in the frame.
By the end of the third quarter, Pulaski had pulled even with the Briar Jumpers on the glass, 25-25, which as Gover indicated, was a big reason his team had pulled out to a 49-41 lead through three quarters of play.
“We finally got a little run going there in the third quarter and got some turnovers, and were able to convert some baskets,” pointed out the PC coach.
“Every time you play Somerset you’re going to have to deal with those post players,” Gover remarked. “We lost focus a few times and didn’t get our assignments on where we were supposed to be defensively, and I wasn’t real pleased with our kids to be honest. I’m happy with the win, but I’m far from satisfied. We’re now 4-0 in the district and make no mistake about it, I’m happy with where we are at, but we’ve got some work to do and time is running out to get it done.”
One reason for Gover to not be 100 percent satisfied with his team was the way his club handled — or more accurately didn’t handle — the last 1:59 of the game.
After another Gordon basket brought the Jumpers to within seven points of PC at 57-50, Gover called a timeout with 1:59 remaining in the game.
Coming out of that timeout, on Pulaski County’s next three possessions, the Maroons missed one shot, and turned the ball over two times.
Those three empty trips helped the Jumpers to stay within striking distance of Pulaski.
A Ryan Dishman trey with :30 left cut the PC lead down to 57-53, but Kody Johnson would ice the game for the Maroons, by converting both ends of the bonus with :13 left, giving Pulaski County its ninth straight victory in this rivalry.
“The pace got faster than what we wanted it to get in the second half,” stated coach Cothron.
“We lost (Taylor) Gover and (Kody) Johnson in transition two or three times that led to them getting some baskets, and enabled them to get the lead back on us,” Cothron added. “Then, we came back and took the lead back from them, and I thought we would be all right. But, then the last time they took the lead on us we never could get over the hump.”
Taylor Gover led everybody with his 24 points, while Johnson added 22 points for a PC team that will return to action tomorrow night at home with another 47th District contest against Rockcastle County.
Somerset meanwhile got 20 points from Ryan Dishman, while Weddle chipped in with 12 points, and Williams added 11 points.
Somerset will return to action on Friday night at The Briar Patch to take on another arch-rival, as the Southwestern Warriors will square off against the Briar Jumpers beginning at 7:30 p.m.
SHS — 15 13 13 13 — 54
PC — 11 14 24 10 — 59
SOMERSET — R. Dishman 20, Weddle 12, Williams 11, Gordon 9, Cheuvront 2.
PULASKI CO. — Gover 24, Johnson 22, Goins 6, Burton 5, Laign 2.