“It’s crazy because you always think Lincoln is going to come back but then that final buzzer hits and we’re like wow, we actually did it. It’s a feeling like none other when you see all those people rushing towards you on the court and that feeling went by way too quickly.”
The words of Pulaski County senior Brysen Dugger, one member of a six-person senior class for the 12th Region Champions Pulaski County Maroons. This group of seniors may just be one of the best in recent school history, winning upwards of 90 games over the course of their careers. However, although they may be great on the court, they are even better people off the court.
The group is led by two of the best players in the region in Barek Williams and Cayden Lancaster, even if, according to many pundits, Williams was not considered that before the beginning of the basketball season.
“I’d just like to point out that Barek was not ranked in the top 10 of players in our region before the season,” stated Ben Dalton, another member of the senior class and favorite of the Pulaski County High student section.
Williams, to his credit, played it cool when asked how it felt to win the region championship.
“It was surreal, everybody counted us out from day one, losing the seniors off of last year’s team, but everybody stepped up. The whole fourth quarter, you could just feel it in the air. It was just crazy,” he explained.
Missing most of last year’s basketball season and all of football season this year, Williams was second on the team in scoring with 19.5 points per game and was just happy to be on the court and contribute to the first region title for the Maroons since 2017.
“It feels amazing. I just tried to keep my head up all year last season. I was a pretty big contributor my sophomore season but after my injury I kind of got cut out last year. There’s no telling what we would have been able to do last year if I didn’t get injured. Just to be able to win a region after last year, it’s just special,” Williams described.
For Lancaster, the leading scorer on the Maroons with 19.7 points per game, this marked his second region title in his senior season, as he also won the region championship in golf, which coincidentally is also coached by John Fraley.
“After we won the golf region, me and coach Fraley joked around and said we have one more left to win,” Lancaster elucidated. “We got two of those region trophies under our belt now and it’s really special.”
The unheralded members of this ‘super six’ senior class, Kam Hargis and Dalton, still provide a lot to the team than what the naked eye can see. Hargis is constantly diving for loose balls, with his dive in the fourth quarter of the region championship game one of the best plays from that contest. Dalton, despite not receiving a ton of playing time, is always one of the first off the bench to meet his teammates at a timeout and as previously stated, a favorite of the student section for just his spirit alone.
Jace Frye was expected to be a starter for this Maroons team heading into the season, but an injury kept him out of action for the first few months, forcing him into a role on the bench, a role that Frye has accepted and found ways to contribute to his team.
“Once I found out I’d be out for like three months, it really took a toll on me and it upset me for several weeks. When I was finally able to take the court again, I was really emotional. It just feels really good to be able to play,” he explained.
Frye was one of the most animated players once the final buzzer sounded on the Maroons’ championship victory, with the emotion pouring out of the senior.
“I know they got me on video jumping up and down like crazy. It was a surreal moment and something I’ll never forget,” he expounded.
For this group of seniors, this was payback after an unfortunate end to their season last year and Lancaster relayed just as much.
“It’s just a dream come to reality. You dream about this your whole high school career and ever since you were little. Our season got cut short last year so we had some payback due, and it felt good to just finally cash it in,” he stated.
For the Maroons, these six fantastic seniors will try to shock the state one more time on Wednesday as they take on Warren Central in the first round of the Boys’ Sweet 16.
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