LEXINGTON — On paper at least, Pulaski County verses Warren Central in the opening round of the Boy’s Sweet 16 Basketball Tournament at Rupp Arena was the proverbial David versus Goliath matchup.
Unfortunately for John Fraley and the Maroons, Goliath prevailed in this one.
Simply, the Dragons — 32-1 on the season heading into the game — proved from the very outset why they have been ranked number one in Kentucky for much of the season.
The Dragons — thanks to red-hot shooting in the first half — raced out to a 20-3 lead over Pulaski County after one period of play, and led at the intermission by a whopping 26-point margin, leading the Maroons 45-19 at the halftime break.
Thanks to falling behind by so many points that early in the contest, PC never could really get into the game, falling to Warren Central by a final score of 80-55.
“I felt like we came out and played hard early and did a lot of good things, but we kind of ran into a buzzsaw tonight,” lamented the PC head coach, after the Maroons season came to an end with the loss, finishing the year 27-7.
“Warren Central was really good for the whole game, but especially early,” Fraley added. “They shot the ball really well, and they were nine of 17 from behind the three-point line. That’s a really good night from the three-point line, and we knew to have a shot in this one, we were going to have to keep them off the boards and take care of the ball, and hope they missed some shots.”
In two of those three areas, PC was unable to slow the Dragons down.
For the game, Warren Central dominated the glass, winning the rebounding battle over PC by a 36-20 margin.
The Dragons also made their shots, shooting 62.1 percent from the floor in the first half, and finishing the night hitting 33-58 field goal attempts, for 56.9 percent.
Compare that to Pulaski County — the Maroons for the game only hit on 20-53 field goal attempts, for 37.7 percent.
Those two key stats were really the difference in the game.
Cayden Lancaster tallied eight of his 14 points in the third quarter, and Barek Williams scored six of his team-high 19 points in the stanza, as the two Maroon seniors tried to get their team back in it, but it was not to be.
The Dragons were able to tie PC in the third quarter 19-19, taking a 64-38 lead over PC into the fourth quarter of play.
“We ended the game in the 50’s which is where we needed the game to be, but Warren Central shot the lights out tonight and scored 80 points,” stated Fraley.
“What you don’t see on film when you watch Warren Central is just how big, and long, and how quick they are, or how good they are defensively,” continued the PC head coach. “They’re basically all the same size, and they can all guard inside and out. The shoot the ball really well, and they move the ball really well.”
Reserve Jace Frye — playing in his final game as a Maroon — gave PC another solid effort of the bench with six points, while fellow senior Brysen Dugger added five points.
“I am so proud of our seniors,” Fraley stated. “We have six seniors on our team, and we lost probably 3,500 points and 1,500 rebounds from last year, and nobody gave these guys a chance to get back to the regional finals, much less to get here.”
“These guys have been resilient all year long, and they were able to put together a great year,” Fraley added. “They are one of six teams in school history to win a region and play in a state tournament, and that’s something they can all be very proud of doing.”
Warren Central — 33-1 on the season — advanced to Friday afternoon’s Elite 8 game.
The Dragons were led in scoring in the win by Kade Unseld, who poured in a game-high 26 points, Chappelle Whitney added 16 points, and Omari Glover added 11 points.
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