The Pulaski County Maroons are once again champions of the Boy's 47th District. However, it certainly didn't come easy.
John Fraley's club overcame an hour and a half delay due to a broken rim, a technical foul during an 8-minute warmup coming out of that delay, and a pesky and determined Rockcastle County basketball team.
When all was said and done, it was the Maroons cutting down the nets at Somerset's Briar Patch with a come from behind and hard-fought, 64-51 win over Rockcastle County, in a contest that had a little bit of everything.
Both teams got out of the gate very slowly on Wednesday night, with PC holding a 10-9 advantage through one quarter of play.
Barely over a minute into the second frame -- 6:54 left in the first half to be exact -- the three officials halted play due to a broken rim at the west end of The Briar Patch, with The Rock leading PC at that juncture 13-10.
What ensued after that was an hour and a half delay, to put up a new rim. Once the new rim was installed, both teams were given an eight-minute warm up session.
During those warmups, Pulaski County's Zach Travis softly threw down a dunk on said new rim, and the officials assessed a technical foul on head coach John Fraley. Yes, it was just one of those kind of nights.
"The rim was actually broke before the game, and they (officials) wanted to try it, and we played a full quarter, and then they decided the rim was too bad to continue," stated Fraley, after his club improved to 13-6 on the year with the win.
"The kids went and were sitting in the locker room, sitting out there on the steps during the delay, and it was tough, because they've been waiting all day to play this game -- a district title game," continued the Maroons head coach. "It was a hard deal to go through, but our kids were very resilient. On the technical foul, we lose possession of the ball, we lose two points to them on the free throws, and we lose two points that we might have scored on the next possession. That's a four-point swing, and then the officials walk over and tell me that I have to sit, because I am the one that was assessed the technical due to the dunk in warmups. During warmups, it's not on the player, it's on the coach, so I basically had to sit for the entire game."
Despite all of that misfortune, Pulaski County made its run coming down to the intermission.
Brysen Dugger came off the PC bench and he brought some defensive intensity to the floor for the Maroons, helping ignite a 10-0 PC rally, helping his club erase a 21-12 deficit.
PC went up 22-21 late in the first half, but a three-point hoop by Rock's Daniel Mullins just before the first half ended, put the Rockets back out in front of the Maroons at 24-22.
Pulaski County trailed Rockcastle County 32-29 midway through quarter number three, but once again a run by the Maroons put Fraley and crew back out in front -- this time for good.
A 9-0 PC spurt saw the Maroons leading The Rock 38-32 late in the third frame, forcing a Rockets timeout.
The Maroons led 44-36 at the end of the third period, and extended the lead out to as much as 13 points in the final frame, thanks in large part to Barek Williams and Zach Travis.
Williams -- who scored a game-high 18 points -- tallied 12 of those after the intermission, with eight coming in the game's final stanza.
Travis meanwhile did most of his damage in the third quarter of play, scoring 12 of his 17 points during that frame and the PC rally.
KJ Combs also hit for double figures for PC, as he added 14 points -- eight of those coming after halftime.
Thanks to solid second halves from all three of those guys, once PC claimed the lead with that 9-0 spurt in the third quarter, the Maroons never really were threatened again, as the closest the Rockets would get to the Maroons would be seven points late in the contest.
"I told our kids that we've been through a lot this year, and I know everybody has with Covid 19, but we have too," stated Fraley.
"At halftime, I told them that they had went through the pain and the hard work, and now you get the reward if you go out here in the second half and play," continued the PC coach. "That's what they did. It was great to see those kids do that, because I've been on this bunch really hard, because I know they've got some ability. And, to see them finally display that ability in the second half was really nice."
Rockcastle County fell to 9-7 with the loss, and the Rockets were paced by Mullins with 17 points in the setback.
Matthew Chasteen added 15 points, as he was the other lone Rockcastle County player to hit double figures.
Both teams will now move on to the Boy's 12th Regional Tournament, which gets underway on Saturday morning at 11 a.m. at Lincoln County High School. There will be four first round games on Saturday, at 11 a.m., 2 p.m., 5 p.m., and 8 p.m. The Gym at the school will be totally cleared of fans at the conclusion of each game on Saturday.
The tourney will consist of district champions East Jessamine, Lincoln County, Pulaski County, and McCreary Central, while the four district runner-ups will also be playing in the field. Those four teams are West Jessamine, Boyle County, Rockcastle County, and Southwestern.
Check out The Commonwealth Journal's Friday edition for the bracket for the tournament.
RC -- 9 15 12 15 -- 51
PC -- 10 12 22 20 -- 64
Rockcastle County -- Mullins 17, Chasteen 15, Hopkins 8, Sanders 5, Coguer 4, Deleon 2.
Pulaski County -- Williams 18, Travis 16, Combs 14, Lancaster 6, Sloan 6, Dugger 4.