By RODNEY YOUNG
Salem – Playing a second night in a row and having one of their best efforts yet, the Cougars lost to the home standing Salem Spartans 63-59 Wednesday.
Troy Mann of the Spartans led them with 16 points, scoring 14 of those in the second half. He had help from 6’5″ center Alex Light who scored 11 points.
The Cougars had two players in double figures, with Cameron Merchant scoring a game high 18 points and Zack Akers scoring 13. Tyler Blevins, for the second straight game, had double digits in rebounds. He finished with 10 boards after having 12 against Blacksburg.
Up 33-31 at the half, the Cougars had played very hard and with a lot of energy.
Salem started the second half on a 13-2 run to go up 48-39 at the end of the third quarter, but Pulaski would battle back behind the scoring of Merchant and Akers. Going on a run of their own, 11-2, Pulaski County (3-13) cut the Spartans lead to 60-54 with 1:30 remaining in the game. Merchant hit three big three-pointers in the fourth quarter as Akers hit five of six from the charity stripe. Merchant’s last three cut the deficit to the final of 63-59.
Mark Hanks, the Cougar head coach remarked, “we had very good effort tonight. The last two games our effort has pleased me. We just need to catch a break. This is two games in a row that I’ve seen more positives than negatives. During the early third quarter they where in a zone, and I might have pulled it out and made them play us but I didn’t.”
The Cougar junior varsity squad also was on the short end of the scoreboard, losing 49-44. Elliott Brewster had 14 points, Miguel Garcia 9, and Kevin Smith 7. Hesus Hickman and Jake Clary both chipped in with six points apiece. The junior varsity record is now 10-6. Salem was led by Shannon Davis with 10 points.