Talk about going from the proverbial frying pan into the fire.
That’s exactly the place where Mark Flynn and the Pulaski County Maroon basketball team found themselves last night at the PC Gym.
On Tuesday night, Flynn and company faced one of the hottest teams in the 12th Region, as the West Jessamine Colts invaded the PC Gym, winners of 9 of their last 10 games, and left PC with a 78-56 victory, dropping the Maroons to 8-14 on the season.
But last night, Flynn and company faced an even hotter team, and an even taller obstacle.
The Boyle County Rebels paid the Maroons a visit last night, and the Rebels brought an 11-game win streak into the contest, and were coming in fresh off Tuesday night’s 43-42 upset win over none other than defending state champion South Laurel.
Tough opponent for Senior Night.
Still, despite a 48-38 setback to the visiting Rebels, Flynn might have gotten exactly what he wanted from this game.
And that would be defense.
Yes, Pulaski trailed in this one 31-13 at the intermission, completing an abysmal first half, but the Maroons came out and looked like a totally different team after the break.
PC outscored Boyle County 25-17 in the second half, and put forth the kind of defensive effort that Flynn says it will take for his club to make any kind of post season run, beginning next Tuesday night in the 47th District Tournament at Casey County.
“We absolutely played a great second half tonight,” noted Flynn, after his club ended the regular season with an 8-15 record.
“We rebounded the ball like we need to in the post season, as we had 20 rebounds in the second half, and we played defense like we need to play defense, and we showed the type of guts that you need to have, to be a good team too,” stated the PC head coach. “We could have quit, and we had every chance to quit, but we kept battling back and battling back.”
Indeed, PC battled Boyle County tooth and nail in the second half, but it was early on at the beginning of the game, the Maroons lost this one.
On the opening tip, one of the seniors Flynn and company said good-bye to on this Senior Night affair, Ben Meeks, scored on a driving layup, and with only :03 off the clock, the Maroons had a quick, 2-0 lead.
But, that was about the only bright spot of the opening half for Flynn’s squad.
Boyle County, after being down 2-0, went on a 19-2 run over the next 7 minutes of play, and by the end of the first period, the Rebels were on top by a dozen points, leading the Maroons 21-9.
PC struggled for points of any kind in the opening half of play, trailing the Rebels by 18 points at the intermission, 31-13, as the visitors weren’t having any trouble scoring whatsoever.
In fact, Boyle County’s go-to guy, 6-foot-nine inch Brian Staed, scored 17 of his game-high 25 points in the first half of play, outscoring PC himself by four points.
“We had a hard time guarding (Brian) Staed at the first of the game,” lamented Flynn. “Then, when Ben (Meeks) got his third foul in the first half, we knew we were going to have a hard time getting back in the game in the first half.”
The Maroons didn’t really make a run at the Rebels until the fourth quarter, as PC still trailed Boyle County by 15 points, 39-24 after three periods of play.
However, thanks to a spark by Winston Hines off the PC bench, and the play of John Perkins, PC would battle back, and eventually trimmed the deficit down to 7 points on two separate occasions.
About midway through the final stanza, Hines and Perkins hit back to back treys for the Maroons, as Pulaski, with four minutes left in the game, all of a sudden found itself back in this one, trailing 41-34.
After the Rebels stretched that margin back out to 10 points, 45-35, Hines, a freshman with ice-water in his veins, drilled trey number two of the frame, and once again PC was back to within 7 points of Boyle County, 45-38.
“John Perkins and Winston Hines each hit some big three’s when we were making a run there in the fourth quarter,” Flynn noted. “Winston’s three’s, and those two three’s by John, really made a difference for us when we were making the run.”
“The thing that we’ll take from this game, is the good things that defense can do for you,” continued the Maroon head coach. “I’m really proud of the way everybody came out there on the floor and defended in the second half.”
Staed led everybody with his 25 points, while teammate Clay Carter joined him in double figures with 16 points for the victorious Rebels, who ended the regular season on a 12-game winning streak, with the victory over PC.
Perkins was the lone Maroon player in double figures with 16 points, but on this night, Flynn’s thoughts were on his two seniors, Ben Meeks and Nick Forbes, who played in their final regular season game at the PC Gym.
Flynn coached both players during their freshman and sophomore years on the jayvee team, and the PC head coach couldn’t help but get a little choked up, when talking about what both, Meeks and Forbes mean to him, and what both players have meant to his Pulaski County basketball program.
“They’re two of the finest kids that you’ll ever know,” said Flynn. “They’ve both played here for four years, and they’re just good, all around nice kids. We really hate to see them go, because they’re good for morale, and they’re good for the locker room.”
For the Maroons, PC finished the regular season with last night’s loss with an 8-15 record, and losers of its last five games of the season, including the last three games at home over the past week to Southwestern, West Jessamine, and to Boyle County.
Still, Flynn thinks playing three of the top contenders for the 12th Region over the last week of the regular season, will do nothing but get his team prepared for next week’s battle against Casey County in Liberty, in the opening round of the Boy’s 47th District Basketball Tournament.
“There’s two ways to look at it really,” Flynn noted. “We can let these last three games that we’ve lost beat us to death, and go into the district tournament with our head down, or we can be the team like we were in the second half tonight. A team that battles hard regardless of the situation, and lets these last three games we’ve played make us a better team.”
PC will take on Casey County next Tuesday night, in the Boy’s 47th District Basketball Tournament in Liberty, with that game tipping off at 7:00 p.m.
The 47th District Tournament will kick off on Monday night at 7:00 p.m., with the other semi final game of the boy’s bracket. In that game, number one-seed Somerset will face Rockcastle County at Casey County High School.
Talk about going from the proverbial frying pan into the fire.
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