If Pulaski County head basketball coach Al Gover was still feeling a little ‘queasy’ headed into Thursday night’s regular season finale against McCreary Central, he was certainly feeling a whole lot better when the final horn had sounded.
On a night when PC honored seniors Kyle Ball, Jake Bales, Luke Elmore, and Alex Abner, Gover and company ended a brief, two-game losing skid with an impressive 70-48 victory over the visiting Raiders.
Gover, who was so ill that he didn’t even make the trip on Tuesday night to West Jessamine — a 63-49 loss to the Colts — but he was back on the PC bench Thursday night to watch his club end the regular season with a 23-6 record with the 22-point win over the Raiders.
“When we’ve got our intensity and defensive effort — running the floor like we were running tonight, along with rebounding, where I think we just about doubled them on the boards — we’re a pretty good team,” stated Gover after the game.
“We’ve got to continue that through the tournaments,” Gover added. “Throughout the season when we went through a little slump, our intensity wasn’t where it needed to be. I think our kids have to have intensity to get where we need to be.”
PC did indeed have plenty of intensity against visiting McCreary Central on ‘Senior Night’.
Senior reserves Kyle Ball and Luke Elmore, along with regular starters Jake Bales and Alex Abner, all started in this regular season finale, meaning that regular starters, Kody Johnson and Taylor Gover, came off the Maroon bench.
No worries though for Pulaski.
Gover tallied a game-high 21 points, while Johnson scored 16 of his 18 points from the free throw line, helping the Maroons go into the intermission with a 31-22 lead.
McCreary Central, who got 19 points from Jacob Dixon, stayed close to Pulaski County until finally running out of gas early in the fourth quarter.
The Maroons led 46-38 after three periods of play, and then with 6:01 remaining in the game, McCreary Central head coach Robert Jones, with his team trailing the Maroons 50-40, was hit with a technical foul and the Raiders never recovered from that juncture.
So after playing a brutal stretch of games over the final two weeks of the season — games that saw Pulaski drop a pair of buzzer beaters at Knox Central and Mercer County, along with Tuesday’s 14-point setback at West Jessamine, just how important was tonight’s game coach Gover?
“Tonight’s game was real important,” stated the Maroons coach.
“If you lose three in a row, or four out of your last five, even though it was against some pretty good teams, we didn’t want that, so this game was very crucial,” continued Gover. “We really needed to play well tonight. Our kids are focused right now, and I think we’ve got that confidence back that we need to go out and play a good game next Tuesday night against Somerset.”
With the win over the Raiders on Thursday night, the Maroons, ranked number eight in the preseason rankings in the 12th Region, closed out the regular season with a 23-6 worksheet.
Those 23 wins was the second most victories inside the 12th Region this season only behind a Wayne County team that lost to just one 12th Regional team all year on its home floor — the Pulaski County Maroons.
Not bad coach Gover.
“I thought at the beginning of the year we were going to be a pretty good team,” pointed out the PC head coach.
“I knew we were better than eighth in the region, and a lot of people really stepped up this year for us to make that happen,” continued Gover. “The kids, boy they deserve a lot of credit, because they played hard all year, and on most nights this year, their effort was there and was very good.”
The Maroons will open play in the 47th District Basketball Tournament on their home floor next Tuesday night at 7 p.m., as Gover and crew will take on arch-rival Somerset in the opening round of the tournament.
MC — 13 9 16 10 — 48
PC — 12 19 15 24 — 70
McCREARY CENT. — Dixon 19, Williams 10, Ball 8, Strunk 5, Brown 4, Perry 2.
PULASKI CO. — Gover 21, Johnson 18, Ball 8, Goins 8, Bales 7, Abner 4, Laign 2, Lorman 2.