By DAVID GRAVELY
A few years ago, Pulaski County High School lost several freshman programs that fed the JV and varsity teams due to budget cuts. Football and basketball were the programs affected, and the loss of that buffer between the middle school and high school levels means the loss of valuable playing time for the younger freshmen as they try to make the adjustment. It also meant less players getting a chance to develop the skills that could help them make the cut at the varsity level.
While the coaches all agree that they would love to have those programs back, basketball is making the most of AAU and travel teams to fill the gap. The Pulaski County Fast Break Club, a new booster organization dedicated to helping improve the level of basketball in Pulaski County, have helped with not just fundraising for the basketball program but also with providing game opportunities for the AAU teams that the younger players are on.
That experience is starting to show results already. One freshman, Isaac Poe, has been moved up to the varsity team and is getting plenty of playing time for Head Coach Mark Hanks team. Several other freshmen are making an impact on and leading the junior varsity team.
In Wednesday nights 59-48 win against Carroll County, the Cougars had nine players score. Hesus Hickman led the team with 17 points. Elliott Brewster had to sit more than he wanted due to foul troubles, but he still added 14 points. Bradley Church scored 6, and Kevin Smith scored 5. Jake Clary, Eric Weeks, and D.J. Schnicke all scored 4 points each. Patrick Sanchez added 3 points, and Barron Blevins added 2 points.
The win over the Cavaliers moved the young team to a 4-2 record, and it could have very easily been 5-1 if not for a last second shot by the Bobcats that sent their game at Radford into overtime last week. If they had the services of Poe, who was expected to be their point guard, the team could be even more dangerous.
Head Coach J.R. Montgomery, along with assistant coach Shay Dunnigan, have done an admirable job of taking an extremely young team and focused on teaching them the basic fundamentals and teamwork of basketball. If Pulaski County were able to find a way to reform the freshman programs, the future would look even brighter with more players getting a chance to develop.