SWT Student Correspondant
(Editor note: The following article was submitted by Carlie Clary, a rising senior and member of the Lady Cougar varsity basketball team at Pulaski County High School. The Southwest Times welcomes submissions from young journalists for consideration. Please submit your story to email@example.com.)
The seventh grade Lady Cougar basketball team continued to improve this past weekend when they played in the Virginia Commonwealth Games, held at Hidden Valley High School.
Our girls weathered the exhausting heat and number of games like the true champs they are, playing their hearts out to the last second and taking home the first place gold medals.
Many who came to show their support will say this tournament was an exciting thing to see. It was also a display of the vast amount of heart, dedication, and improvement the team has accomplished this offseason with their coach, Kim Drummonds. The most impressive of things seen this past weekend, in my opinion, was how each game showed the improved talents of each of the ladies. Leaders emerged, scorers stepped up, and defenders shut down the opponents when it mattered most. Pulaski County High School’s basketball program can look forward to each of these young players making their way to the high school in a couple of years.
The Lady Cougars played their first game early Saturday morning at 9:15 against a team from Danville that was no match for them. The Cougars were hot offensively and maintained a strong defensive front. This game was the easiest of the day, with the Cougars coming out on top 63-31.
Playing a team out of Grundy proved to be the toughest team they would play Saturday. The second game was played at 11:45 in a gym that was becoming increasingly hotter as the day moved on. The Cougars came out slow and never could catch up with Grundy’s fundamentally strong team. Although the Cougars picked up the pace in the second half, slowly eating away at the deficit they had left themselves in the first, the time expired all too quickly and the Cougars fell in what what would be their only loss of the day by a final score of 41-51. The score says nothing about how hard the ladies pushed each other to be their best.
Coach Drummonds huddled the ladies together after this loss and, as a team, they decided that they weren’t going to let it happen again. They were going to come out on top.
In the third game of a very long day, the seventh grade team faced the CIC Lady Warriors at 2:30. The gym had become very hot and humid. The Cougars dominated this game, but took a beating from rough play throughout. The Warriors were scrappy and aggressive, but the Cougars kept their composure on and off the court to walk away with a 49-26 win and entry into the championship game.
After a much needed lengthy break, the girls were back in action at 7:15 seeking revenge for their only loss of the day. The Cougars came out very slow, just as they had in the first showing against Grundy. Quickly losing sight of a win, and even going down as many as 26 points, the Lady Cougars were in desperate need of a miracle. The Cougars weren’t able to stop the very quick and talented Grundy team, and they definitely weren’t scoring either.
With only seven minutes left in the game, the team suddenly came alive. Thanks to vocal leadership by Amiah Stables, Tyanna Haynes, and Taylor Dickerson the ladies got things rolling. It was just the miracle they needed. The fans got involved with supportive cheers, and things began to come together for the Lady Cougars.
Coach Drummonds got her starting five in the game quickly, and the Cougars began to press. These ladies weren’t ready to give up. The press shut down the Grundy offense and the steals were turned into quick layups. Grundy was losing the lead, and fast.
Taylor Dickerson had found her shot late in the game, leading the Cougars in the offensive column with her 3-pointers. Shaye Somerville helped lead the team with one of the best games in her basketball career. Amiah Stables led the Cougars to a comeback win with a multitude of steals. The Lady Cougars came away with a 3-point win, 49-46, to be crowned the champions. This game, as a fan or a player, was one that saw a variety of emotions, but ended in smiles all the way around as our girls won gold.
“I am very grateful to the entire Pulaski County coaching staff for giving me the opportunity to come in and work with these girls,” said Head Coach Kim Drummonds. “I’m also grateful to my daughter, Alexis, who allows her mother to coach her team. I’m grateful to all the players that have come out and been supportive of me and hope they feel I supported them too. Thanks to my mom, dad, husband, and brother-in-law for helping me to take advantage of this coaching opportunity by taking care of things at home. I had so much fun and feel really honored at the end of this being Commonwealth champs. And finally thanks to all my players parents, they have helped me in every way possible and have really stood by me and that means everything. I love you all and thank you so much. Hope you will have me back.”
The next tournament scheduled is at Parry McCluer High School on August 3. The Varsity and JV squads are also set to attend.