By DOUG EADS
The players, coaches, and the seasons change, but one thing that remains a constant is the fact that Somerset and Pulaski County has one of the best basketball rivalries in the state of Kentucky, and that has been the case for the past few decades.
And on Friday night at The PC Gym, these two district foes gave us yet another installment of a classic in this storied rivalry.
In a game that saw Somerset lead the Maroons by nine points in each half — only to see Pulaski County rally to take back the lead in each half over the Briar Jumpers — it was a 17-foot, fade away jumper at the buzzer by Kade Grundy that gave the purple and gold a thrilling, 64-62 win over the Maroons.
The win gave Somerset a season sweep over PC, and it gave Jeron Dunbar’s club a number one seed for the upcoming 47th District Tournament in a couple of weeks.
Whew, what a ballgame.
“This was a game of resiliency,” stated a very happy coach Dunbar after the game.
“When Jase (Bruner) — our heart and soul — goes out after playing five minutes, we could have quit,” Dunbar added. “My guys reached deep down and persevered. Everyone that stepped on that floor tonight gave it all they had.”
And, Somerset needed everything from every player to eek out a win over PC on the Maroons home court in a much-anticpated rematch from Somerset’s overtime win over the Maroons last month.
The Jumpers raced out to a 21-12 lead late in the first period over Pulaski County, but the Maroons rallied to take a 33-32 lead over the Jumpers by halftime.
Again in the third period of play — thanks to an 8-0 run by Dylan Burton all by himself — Somerset once again went up by nine points, but once again the Maroons would rally.
Grant Oaks helped keep his club in this one by dominating the paint area against a Somerset team that sorely missed Jase Bruner, who left early in the game after rolling an ankle.
Oaks tallied a game-high 26 points, but it would not be enough for Pulaski County to avenge an earlier, 88-81 loss in overtime suffered at Somerset back in January.
With the game knotted up at 62-62 with one minute left in regulation, Somerset — with the ball — decided to hold it for a last shot attempt.
That turned out to be a great decision by Dunbar.
Coming out of a timeout with only :09.9 remaining in the game, Grundy got the ball and drove the right baseline. His 17-foot, baseline fade away jumper hit the side of the rim, bounced up in the air over the basket, and fell through the net as the buzzer sounded.
Somerset 64- — Pulaski County 62.
For the Jumpers, led the celebration and pandemonium begin.
“You’re sitting there with almost a minute left to play, and you’ve got that decision to make — do you foul them and get the ball back, or do you try and guard them?,” stated Pulaski County assistant coach Shannon Fraley after the game.
“Obviously, we made the decision to try and guard them, and obviously hind sight is 20-20,” he added. “We were where we should have been on that final play, but he (Grundy) just made a great shot.”
As for Dunbar, the Somerset coach pointed out there was no other choice in the huddle before those final 9.9 seconds left in regulation. His sophomore guard — Kade Grundy — was going to get the ball.
“Kade told me that he wanted the ball,” stated the Somerset head coach.
“He was going to get it and make something happened,” continued Dunbar. “He was going to either make a shot or get someone else open for a shot. He made the right decision.”
Grundy led Somerset with 18 points in the win, while Chase Walker added 13 points, Kaiya Sheron scored 11 points, and Burton added 10.
Besides Oaks 26 points for Pulaski County, the Maroons had one other player in double figures, as Colton Fraley tallied 13 points.
Somerset — now 13-10 on the year — finished district play with a perfect, 6-0 record, and will return to action Monday night at The Briar Patch hosting Knox Central.
Pulaski County meanwhile — 14-9 on the season and finishing district play as a number two seed with a 4-2 mark — will return to action tonight at The PC Gym at 7:30 p.m. hosting Lincoln County.