The Pulaski County Lady Maroons (14-10, 2-4) avenged an earlier loss to rival Somerset (12-14, 1-5) on Thursday with a wire-to-wire 48-42 win over the Lady Jumpers on a very emotional night at the Briar Patch.
Prior to the contest, the Lady Jumpers had a moment of silence in honor of former Lady Jumper standout Brynlee Bigelow who perished in an automobile accident Tuesday night.
In a nice show of support for the Lady Jumpers and Somerset High School, Pulaski Coach Chris Adkiins and the Lady Maroons provided shooting shirts which the two teams wore while warming up, emblazoned with a pair of Angel wings surrounding Bigelow's number 21 which she wore during her Somerset career.
"It was bittersweet coming back into this gym after the passing of Brynlee Bigelow, and the girls from both teams played their hearts out," Pulaski County High School girls basketball coach Chris Adkins stated. "Heidi (Thompson) had played with Brynlee (at Somerset) and she was really affected. I know it really affected the girls on the Somerset team too."
As they did in the first matchup at the PC gym, Pulaski County jumped out to an early lead and held a 15-10 advantage at the end of the first quarter after junior Dawn Wilson drained a 3-point shot at the buzzer.
A three by Molli Nelson and baskets by Haylee Ridner and Maddy Dunn gave the Lady Maroons their largest lead of the game, 26-13, with five minutes remaining in the half.
But as she did in the first contest, senior Lauren Foutch led a Lady Jumper comeback before the half.
Foutch drained her fourth and fifth 3-pointers of the half inside the final four minutes to pull Somerset to within 28-20 at the intermission.
The Lady Jumpers came out of the half on fire.
Freshman Taya Mills nailed a three to open the third quarter, then Madison Garland had an old fashion three-point play to cut the Pulaski County lead down to 28-26 just 45 seconds into the second half.
That's when the two teams' defenses took over.
Somerset held Pulaski scoreless the first three and a half minutes before senior Heidi Thompson took over the game.
Thompson scored six straight points to extend the Lady Maroons' lead back out to eight, 34-26, with 1:31 left in the quarter.
And after giving up 15 points and five threes to Foutch in the first half, the Lady Maroons defense clamped down, thanks to what Adkins called after the game, a pair of "junk defenses."
"We put in a little diamond-and-two, a triangle-and-two, and a diamond-and-one," Adkins stated. "We ran it several times in the fourth quarter, and (Somerset) didn't really adapt to it."
The Lady Maroons' Triangle and Two and Diamond and One zone defenses held Foutch and Somerset scoreless for more than six minutes before Mills hit a clutch 3-pointer to get the Lady Jumpers to within 34-29 heading into the fourth quarter.
Mills' layup on a halfcourt pass from Addi Bowling to open the fourth quarter got Somerset to within 34-31.
It was still a three-point deficit, 38-35, after four Garland free throws with just under five minutes remaining.
But Thompson scored five points during a seven-point Pulaski run over the next two minutes to extend the lead back out to 45-35.
The Lady Jumpers refused to go down quietly and thanks to several missed free throws and missed layups by the Lady Maroons, fought back.
Back-to-back threes by Mills and Kate Bruner pulled Somerset to within 45-41 with under a minute to play, but the Lady Maroons were able to hold on for the win.
The victory was big for Pulaski as it gave the Lady Maroons the number-three seed in the upcoming 47th District Tournament.
"We just did the little things enough to win the game, and that is the bottom line," stated Pulaski County High School girls basketball coach Chris Adkins. "We didn't do everything we needed to be doing, especially come tournament time. We found a way to win, which we didn't find a w ay to win at our place."
Pulaski will take on host Rockcastle County in the first round, while Somerset will face number-one seed Casey County in the first round.
Thompson led the way for Pulaski with 15 points, while Oakes was also in double figures with 12 points.
Dunn chipped in seven points for PC, while Blankenship and Ridner finished with four points apiece and Nelson had three points.
Foutch and Mills led the way for the Lady Jumpers with 15 points each, while Garland added eight points, Bruner had three points and Bowling had one point.
PC 15 13 6 14 - 48
SHS 10 10 9 13 - 42
PULASKI COUNTY - Thompson 15, Oakes 12, Dunn 7, Ridner 4, Blankenship 4, Nelson 3, Wilson 3.
SOMERSET - Mills 15, Foutch 15, Garland 8, Bruner 3, Bowling 1.