LIBERTY – For much of the regular season, the Pulaski County Maroon basketball team was jokingly referred to by many as “Team Turmoil.”

Well, after two games in this week’s Boy’s 47th District Basketball Tournament at Casey County High School, Mark Flynn and crew can now simply be called, “The Cardiac Kids.”

Or, more importantly, you can make that “District Champs.”

After John Perkins got the Maroons to the district tourney final earlier in the week, with a three-point play in the closing seconds against home-standing Casey County, a 63-60 Pulaski win, teammate Jacob Floyd was not going to be outdone in last night’s championship game.

After Rockcastle County’s Kyle Mullins converted both ends of a one and one with :10.5 seconds remaining in the game, giving the Rockets a 61-59 lead, Floyd would wear the laurel of hero for PC.

Taking an inbound pass from Perkins, Floyd raced up court, pulling up behind the top of the key for a three-point shot.

Splash!

Ballgame!

PC 62-Rock 61.

First district title for the Maroons in 13 years. Let the pandemonium begin.

“Whenever John threw the ball into me, I saw that he was covered up, and I saw the clock ticking down, and all I was thinking was the bottom of the net,” stated Floyd, with a sly grin.

Indeed, Floyd’s shot hit nothing but the bottom of the net – a repeat of the ending of the first half, when Floyd nailed a trey at the buzzer just before the intermission – giving his club a 29-27 lead at the half.

Those two threes by Floyd accounted for all six of his points in the contest, but everyone in the starting lineup came up big for the Maroons on this night.

Perkins, just like he did against Casey County earlier in the week, came up with a huge steal inside the game’s final minute of play, raced downcourt for a layup, knotting up the score at 59-59, paving the way for Floyd to be the hero for PC on this night.

Shawn Whitis simply played lights out all night long, scoring 18 points for the Maroons, while ripping down a team-high eight boards.

Ben Meeks brought his usual “A” game to the ole’ barn with 14 points and six rebounds, while Nick Forbes, PC’s unsung hero for much of the season, pulled down three rebounds – two of those at the offensive end that gave his club extra possessions.

In all, it was just a great team effort – a team that had struggled with personnel changes and a coaching change late in the season. And, it was all of those circumstances surrounding this team that really made it all that more special last night in Liberty, when Flynn, along with his kids, got to cut the nets down inside Casey County’s gymnasium.

“It’s an absolutely unbelievable feeling,” noted a very proud Flynn after the contest. “Nobody deserved this more than our kids. They’ve earned it; they worked for it, and they stepped up and made plays on both of these nights over here in the district tournament.”

“They deserve to be the district champions, because they came over here and did what they were supposed to do,” Flynn added.

PC had knocked off Rockcastle County exactly four weeks to the day, back on Feb. 3 in Mt. Vernon, 62-60, on a last-second shot off the baseline by Whitis.

So, this one figured to be tight. And it was that and then some.

Perkins scored nine of his game-high 24 points in the first quarter, as PC led the entire period, leading by as many as eight points in the frame.

Rockcastle County, however, ended the first period on a 6-0 spurt, closing the gap to just one point, 15-14 headed into the second quarter.

That’s when things got interesting.

Over the next three quarters of basketball, this game see-sawed back and forth, with 21 lead changes, counting Floyd’s buzzer beater to win it.

The second quarter saw 10 lead changes of its own, but thanks to Floyd’s first buzzer beater of the night, which ended the first half, Flynn and company went into the intermission with a 29-27 lead.

“This was the second straight game where we’ve beaten Rock at the buzzer,” Flynn noted. “We talked about that very thing with the guys in the locker room before the game. We told them that this was going to be a 32-minute game, and they couldn’t get too high, or get too low. I told them to just keep playing, and we’d see what it looked like at the buzzer.”

What it looked like at the final buzzer was a district title.

There were seven lead changes and four ties in the third period, as the two teams kept going back and forth, but once again, PC would score just before the buzzer.

Perkins drove down the lane, and his layup just before the horn sounded put the Maroons back out in front, 43-42, headed into the fourth stanza.

In that final period, Perkins scored the first nine points of the frame for the Maroons, but it was the Rockets that were seemingly taking charge of the contest.

When Gabe Stallworth picked off a PC pass and raced down the floor for a layup, with under 2 minutes left on the clock, the Rock had PC on the ropes, 57-50.

“It was a great game, but we made a lot of mistakes just like Casey County did against PC the other night coming down the stretch,” noted a dejected Benny Blanton after the game.

“We had a seven-point lead with just about 2 minutes to go, but if you don’t take care of the basketball, you’ll pay for it,” added the Rocket head coach. “Pulaski County did a good job. Perkins and Meeks did a good job all night, and we had to work so hard on defense, that sometimes, that hurts you on offense. And, I think it did tonight, especially late in the game.”

Now while Floyd’s three-pointer was the game-winner for the Maroons, it was a Ben Meeks’ field goal that was arguably, the second biggest bucket of the night for Pulaski County.

With the Maroons down by that 7-point spread, 57-50, Meeks, with ice-water in his veins, calmly came way out on the floor on the left wing, and let a three-pointer fly.

Swish! PC was now down, 57-53.

That trey by Meeks was the spark PC needed.

On the inbound pass after that Meeks’ trey, Stallworth, who had just made a huge play for Rockcastle County, made a crucial mistake.

The senior guard threw the ball away, and Whitis made the Rockets pay with a layup, cutting the deficit to 57-55.

After two free throws extended the Rocket lead to four points, 59-55, Perkins made back-to-back baskets, with the last one coming on a steal and layup, knotting the score up for the final time of the night, 59-59, just before Mullins was fouled, to go to the free throw line for the Rock.

After Mullins sank both free throws with :10 left on the clock, Floyd took matters from there, racing down and making his second trey of the night, giving the Maroons their first district championship since the 1992-93 season.

Floyd’s play at the end of the game, and three-point buzzer beater, was a thing of beauty for the Maroons, giving PC a district crown. However, with a smile across his face, it wasn’t necessarily what Flynn had drawn up in his mind, to wind things down.

“I was trying to tell John (Perkins), when Mullins was shooting the free throws, to try to get the ball and bring it down the floor,” said the PC head coach. “I wanted the ball in John’s hands, and I wanted him to try to penetrate to the basket, and see what would happen.”

“And, I was also going back and forth in my mind, timeout or no timeout,” added Flynn. “I mean, you don’t really won’t to give the defense a chance to set up for that play. Fortunately, it worked out for us, and Jacob Floyd stepped up and hit a very big shot for us.”

The Maroons placed four players in the scoring column, led by Perkins with 24 points.

Whitis, who played arguably his best game of the year, tallied 18 for the 10-15 Maroons, while Meeks added 14 points, and Floyd, thanks to his two treys at the buzzer to end each half, had 6 points.

Rockcastle County, meanwhile, was led by Colby Brown and Mullins, who each tallied 15 points in the loss.

Members of the 47th District Tournament All-Tournament Team announced after the contest were as follows: Keith Price from Casey County, Ross Deaton of Somerset, Colby Brown and Kyle Mullins from Rockcastle County, while John Perkins, Ben Meeks and Shawn Whitis rounded out the squad from PC.

Both teams will advance to the Boys 12th Regional Basketball Tournament, which will get under way Monday night from Pulaski County High School, with a pair of first round games, with two more first round games on Tuesday evening.

A complete preview of the tourney, with the tournament bracket, will be in the Sunday issue of the Commonwealth Journal.



RC – 13 14 15 19 61

PC – 14 15 14 19 62



INDIVIDUAL SCORING

RC (61) — Brown 15, Mullins 15, Riddle 11, Childress 10, Stallworth 6, Miracle 2, McClure 2.

PC (62) — Perkins 24, Whitis 18, Meeks 14, Floyd 6.

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