By DOUG EADS
It’s been a special year up to this point of the season for the Pulaski County Maroons, and thanks to a fourth-quarter rally on Friday night at Southwestern, head coach John Fraley and company continued their path toward what could possibly wind up as a very magical season indeed.
Trailing arch-rival Southwestern by five points in the fourth quarter, Fraley’s club got up and dusted itself off the mat to regain the lead, and then came up with the pivotal stop on the final play of the game, knocking off the Warriors for the second time this season, with a very hard-fought, 61-59 victory, improving to 21-5 on the year with the win.
Early on, this one was all Pulaski County, as the Maroons led from wire to wire in the opening half of play — leading the game by as much as nine points.
The Maroons took a 32-30 lead into the locker room at halftime, but in the third period, thanks to the fact Southwestern began the second half on an 8-0 run, PC all of a sudden was on the wrong end of a 38-32 score, trailing the Warriors for the first time in the contest.
The Warriors eventually would build their lead up to as many as seven points in the third quarter, but behind the play of KJ Combs, Zach Travis, and Grant Oakes, the Maroons would rally to knot things back up at 48-48 heading into the fourth quarter.
In that final stanza, Pulaski County led the Warriors late at 55-50, but once again Chris Baker’s club would fight back.
Southwestern went on a modest, 6-0 spurt, to claw back in front of PC 56-55, setting things up for yet, another classic between these two rivals.
The Maroons eventually regained the lead, but after a couple of back and forth baskets, the game was tied up at 59-59 with less than :20 remaining on the clock.
PC’s Colton Fraley was fouled with 07.3 remaining in the game, and calmly made both of his free throw attempts, giving the Maroons a 61-59 lead.
After a Southwestern timeout, Cole Dysinger went up for a would-be game-tying shot, but the ball slipped out of his hands as he went up, and PC had survived yet another thriller against the Warriors.
Combs led everybody with a game-high 23 points, while Oakes and Travis each added 10 points for a Maroon team that improved to 21-5 on the season with the win.
Southwestern was paced by Brayden Sims with 14 points, while Dysinger added 11 points for the Warriors, who fell to 14-13 on the year with the loss.
Pulaski County will return to action on Sunday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. to host the Danville Admirals at The PC Gym, while Southwestern will be on the road on Tuesday night, taking on Perry County Central.