PERFECTION ACHIEVED: JV Lady Cougars finish season undefeated

By DAVID GRAVELY

sports@southwesttimes.com

 

SALEM – It doesn’t happen very often, but for at least the second time in the 2017-18 school year a Pulaski County team has finished their season undefeated.

 

The junior varsity Lady Cougar basketball team traveled to Salem High School Wednesday for their final game of the regular season. They won that contest, one of their closer matches of the year, by a final score of 50-40 to finish the season with 22 wins and no losses.

 

That’s a big accomplishment, but it’s even bigger when you consider that there almost weren’t enough players to make a team at the start of the season.

 

Head Coach Nancy Quesenberry brought her team into the gym on media day with eight players. The next day sophomore Bailley Nash had surgery to repair her shoulder and was lost for the season. That leaves seven on the roster.

 

Of those seven, one was an eighth-grader pulled up because of the skills and talent she offered. Ally Fleenor was either the leading scorer or the second top scorer in every game this season, even when she played with butterfly tape holding together a gash over her eye that later required several stitches.

 

Two freshmen, Karlee Newberry and Aubrey O’Dell, not only provided more skill at the start of the season, but grew into fierce competitors who were better each game.

 

Four other sophomores were the “old ladies” of the team.

 

Kassidy Secrist made it to just past the halfway point of the regular season before she was pulled up to the varsity squad. She was needed to add depth after Alexis Phillips reinjured her knee.

 

Jaira McNair started the season strong. It looked like she would grow into a top player until an injury sidelined her. She’ll be back, stronger and with a chip on her shoulder.

 

Hanna Walson fought the injury bug, but finished the season with flashes of great things to come.

 

Finally, Sydney Smith … also known by some as “ol’ salty” … went from being a question mark to possibly one of the more improved players on the team. Her rebounding ability was a big advantage for the Lady Cougars. She was also good for a few three-pointers as the season went along.

 

With the injury to McNair and the promotion of Secrist, the team was left with just six players on the active roster. Quesenberry dug into the middle school program and pulled Lady Dukes Taryn Blankenship and Erin Russell into action. With a combination of height, speed, shooting skill and rebounding ability, both made an immediate impact.

 

Unfortunately, Blankenship saw her season come to a halt thanks to an ankle injury late in the season.

 

Back to the middle school rosters Quesenberry went, this time bringing up Lady Duke Hailey Capps. Seconds after entering her first JV contest, Capps came open on the wing and buried a shot for her first high school points. She went on to score nine that night and nine in the final game against Salem.

 

Oddly enough, this is also the second time this season a girls’ basketball team has finished with a perfect record. The DMS Lady Dukes finished 13-0 for the second year in a row. The PMS Lady Orioles finished their season 10-3, with two losses to Dublin and one to a strong Carroll County squad.

 

While the varsity season for the Lady Cougars may not have gone the way they wanted, it should be clear that the future is bright for girls basketball in Pulaski County.

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