STANFORD — The Pulaski County Maroons experienced a tidal wave of emotions on Friday night in the semi finals of the Boy’s 12th Regional Basketball Tournament.
And unfortunately for John Fraley and Pulaski County, an almost certain win turned out to be a gut-wrenching defeat, thanks to one final run by the Danville Admirals.
These two teams hooked up in an instant classic at Lincoln County High School on Friday night. And, thanks to one final big-time run by Danville to end the game, it was the Admirals escaping Lincoln County and punching its ticket to the championship game of the tourney with a come from behind, 49-46 win over Pulaski County.
“Danville really turned up the pressure there when we got up by eight points late in the game, and we all knew it was coming, but we just didn’t handle it well,” stated a very disappointed John Fraley, after his team’s season come to an end with a 20-12 record.
“I’m exremely proud of our kids tonight for the battle they put up and for the things they did,” Fraley added. “They did exactly what we asked them to do and gave us a chance to win, and that’s all I can ask of them.”
This was a game of runs — for both clubs — and although Danville came out and immediately punched the Maroons in the mouth, Ed McKinney’s club could not put PC away.
The Admirals raced out to a quick 8-1 lead, but PC would battle back.
Danville would go up late in the first period 13-5, but the Maroons would roar back with an 8-0 spurt to tie the game at 13-13 after one quarter of play.
Danville would go on another run in the second frame, but once again PC would battle back to knot this one up at halftime, 23-23.
The Ads would quickly score the first five points of the third period for a 28-23 advantage, but once again PC would fight back.
In fact, a layup from Zach Travis late in the third period would give the Maroons their first lead of the night at 34-32, but Danville would score the final bucket of the frame, knotting the game up yet again at 34-34 headed into the fourth quarter.
After the Ads would score the first basket of the fourth period for a 36-34 lead over Pulaski County, it was then the Maroons went on their most impressive run of the night.
Pulaski County would go on a 10-0 spurt, forcing Danville into five turnovers during a three-minute stretch that saw Fraley and crew take, what looked to be a comfortable, 44-36 lead with 3:38 remaining in the game.
That however is when Danville threw a full-court press at PC, and the Maroons did not handle it well at all.
PC was guilty of four turnovers coming down the stretch, which enabled Danville to end the contest on yes — another run — this time a 13-2 spurt.
The biggest play of the game during that Danville rally was a put-back basket by DeShaund St. Martin, who got fouled on the shot, and went to the free throw line and converted the three-point play.
That play put the Ads back on top of PC at 45-44, but the Maroons would respond.
A jumper from outside the elbow by Colton Fraley gave Pulaski its last lead of the game at 46-45, but St. Martin would hit two free throws with :27 remaining for a 47-46 Danville lead.
After a PC miss, Danville would score one final bucket for a 49-46 lead.
Colton Fraley would race downcourt and fire up a three-point attempt just before the horn sounded for a would-be tie, but his shot was no good, and Danville had completed an improbable rally, stealing a win over Pulaski County.
For the Maroons, this was a loss that was very bitter and one Fraley’s club will take into the off-season. Simply put, this is a loss that will take some time to get over for the Maroons.
However, the PC coach says his team will be back.
“We’ve got a good nucleus of kids coming back, and we’ve got a good feeder program at the middle school with Chris (Blankenship) and Shannon (Fraley) doing a great job,” stated Fraley.
“We’re hoping we can continue to build upon what we’ve got, and hopefully get better next year and compete again,” Fraley added.
If the PC-Danville was an instant classic, then I’m not sure what Friday night’s second semi final contest would be called, after the fans witnessed one of the best 12th Regional Tournament games in history.
Wayne County and Lincoln County squared off in last night’s second semi final game, and after the homestanding Patriots held as much as a 14-point lead in the first half of play, the Cardinals rallied sending this game in overtime with the score knotted up at 44-44 at the end of regulation.
Five overtimes later — yes, count them five overtimes later — it was the Patriots surviving over Wayne County by a 67-64 final score.
Danville and Lincoln County will meet tonight on the Patriots home floor for the championship game of the 12th Regional Basketball Tournament at 7 p.m.