By DOUG EADS
They are two teams that are legitimate regional contenders in their respective regions, and on Monday night at The PC Gym, they certainly played like it.
Clay County — a powerhouse out of the 13th Region — squared off against a Pulaski County team that has been rolling along this season, and faced a Maroon squad that remains undefeated this season against 12th Regional opponents.
With both teams stepping out of the their respective regions, they put on a show on Monday night in a great basketball game.
When all was said and done however, it was John Fraley and the Pulaski County Maroons that just keep right on rolling along, as the Maroons held off the visiting Tigers down the stretch to post a hard-fought, 78-73 win over Clay County, improving to 15-3 on the season.
“I thought we played very well offensively tonight in stretches, and then there were other times I didn’t think we really got into anything,” stated a very happy coach Fraley after his club’s victory.
“When we ran our stuff, we got what we wanted,” added the PC head coach.
This game was close throughout, with eight lead changes and three ties in the first half.
However, thanks to 11 points by senior point guard Colton Fraley in the opening half of play, along with 14 first half points off the PC bench, the Maroons went into the intermission on top in this one, albeit by a single digit at 37-36.
Grant Oakes — who scored all six of his points in the second half — gave the Maroons their biggest lead of the night late in the third period with a hoop, that extended the PC lead at that juncture to 50-43.
Clay County however would fight back.
Behind the game-high 24 points from Connor Robinson, the Tigers came all the way back to cut the lead back down to a single point once again.
With PC leading by three points late in the third quarter, sophomore Zach Travis made the first of three big plays on the night to get the Maroons over the proverbial hump.
Travis drained a three-pointer just before the horn sounded ending the third frame, and PC went into the fourth quarter with a 59-53 lead over Clay County.
In the final stanza with his team leading by that one point, Travis scored a huge bucket at crunch time, easing the PC advantage out to 74-71 with just over a minute left to play.
With the score 74-73 after a Clay County bucket — facing a full-court press — Travis broke free behind the defense, received a half court pass, and raced down for an emphatic dunk, putting PC on top of the Tigers at 76-73 with only :47 remaining in the game.
After a key defensive stop by the Maroons on the next possession downcourt by Clay County, Colton Fraley made both ends of a one and one to ice the game for Pulaski County.
Afterwards, head coach John Fraley was a very proud coach of his team, and the way that it has played throughout the course of the season, overcoming injuries to key players such as Oakes and Garrett Heath.
“If you would have told me that we would have been 15-3 through 18 games before the start of the season, I would have probably taken it, especially with the kind of schedule that we’ve played,” stated coach Fraley.
“We’re battling, and we’re trying to get better everyday,” added the PC coach. “As long as we can roll into February with everybody healthy, I feel like we’ve got a chance.”
Colton Fraley and Travis led a very balanced Pulaski County scoring attack in the win with 15 points each, while KJ Combs and Caleb Sloan each contributed 14 points for the Maroons.
The Maroons return to action tonight at home, hosting Casey County in a girl/boy doubleheader at The PC Gym.
The action will tip off at 6 p.m. beginning with the girl’s contest.