By DOUG EADS
A tale of two halves.
That is exactly what happened last night when the Pulaski County Maroons and Southwestern Warriors hooked up on a basketball court for the second time this season.
The Warriors came out on Friday night on their home court, and took the action right at arch-rival PC, playing the game at the tempo coach Chris Baker and company wanted.
And as a result, Southwestern led this affair by double digits at the break — 30-20 over the Maroons.
However, in the second half things changed suddenly, thanks in large part to much better execution by the Maroons, and some key health issues at the worst possible time for the Warriors.
John Fraley’s club exploded for 53 points after the intermission, and thanks to outscoring Southwestern in the second half 53-31, it was PC sweeping the season series over the Warriors, with a hard-fought and come from behind, 73-61 win.
“When we only get 20 points in a half, the tempo is not where we want it to be,” stated Fraley, after his team moved to 17-9 with the win.
“Colton (Fraley) sitting five minutes in the second quarter had a lot to do with that, as well as four kids having the flu,” continued the Pulaski County head coach. “Southwestern really did a good job tonight. Coach (Chris) Baker does a great job. Our kids responded after halftime, and they’re just a great group of kids.”
As for Colton Fraley, the PC junior point guard — less than 100 percent — was held in check in first half by Southwestern, failing to score a single point.
However, in the second half, Fraley — the player — as well as the rest of his teammates picked things up big-time.
PC scored more points in the third period alone — 23 — than the Maroons did in the first half of play, yet Fraley and crew still trailed the Warriors 45-43 headed into the fourth quarter.
However, despite the fact the flu had went through his team over the past few days, it wasn’t coach Fraley that saw his troops dwindling.
Instead, it was the Warriors that got bit by some injury problems as well as foul trouble.
Starting point guard Hunter Coffey played very sparingly after halftime with a nagging injury, Andrew Smith — who gave the Warriors a big lift in the opening half — got banged up missing action for a period of time, Cole Dysinger rolled an ankle, and Southwestern’s bread and butter in the paint — Brayden Sims — fouled out about the midway point of the fourth quarter with his team only down to PC 55-52.
All of those factors spelled doom for a Warrior team that had this game exactly where they wanted it at the intermission.
“We kind of battled some things all night after halftime,” pointed out coach Baker, after his team fell to 12-15 with the loss.
“Hunter Coffey only played about two minutes into the second half, and was out the rest of the game battling a hip and knee injury of sorts,” Baker added. “Cole Dysinger turned an ankle at one point, and we lost him for a little bit, and Andrew Smith got hurt. We just had one injury after the other, and then Brayden (Sims) fouled out, so it was just one thing after the other. I’m proud of our kids — I thought they competed the whole time, but you’ve got to give Pulaski credit. They’re a very good ballclub, and they’re well coached, and they made shots when they needed to make them. We’ll go back to work and try to get better.”
Grant Oaks and Garrett Heath led a balanced Pulaski County scoring attack, with 16 points each, Jake Combs chipped in with 14 points, and Fraley added 11 points — all coming in the second half.
Southwestern meanwhile got a game-high 17 points from Dysinger, while Sims added 13 points, Smith tallied 12 points, and Cameron Pierce also hit for double figures with 10 points.
The Maroons will return to action next Tuesday night on the road at Corbin, while Southwestern will be back in action on Tuesday evening at home against Perry County Central.
Both of those games are slated to get underway at 7:30 p.m.