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Lady Cougars advance to Region semi-finals

Mike Turner/SWT – Head Coach Bradley Sutphin goes over final instructions with the starters Friday.

By DAVID GRAVELY
sports@southwesttimes.com

David Gravely/SWT – Ally Fleener goes up for two of her 13 points Friday.

Don’t make any plans for Tuesday evening, the Lady Cougar basketball team has a date planned and all of Pulaski County is invited.

The date, which is a rematch with the William Byrd Terriers in the second round of the Region 4D tournament, came thanks to a strong performance by the third seeded Lady Cougars in a 45-30 win over sixth seeded Liberty Christian Academy and an upset by the Terriers. The seventh seeded Terriers stunned second ranked Charlottesville Friday in a thrilling 49-47 last second upset.

“Obviously we’re thrilled to get another home game,” Lady Cougar Head Coach Bradley Sutphin said. “I’m so proud of this team. They stood in there and did the work. They got the job done tonight. We’re all just really excited.”

The Lady Cougars took a quick 12-9 lead at the end of the first period, but the Bulldogs kept working. Pulaski County continued to work through he second period, outscoring LCA 10-5 to take a 22-14 lead into the halftime break.

“We were making some mistakes out there, but we kept hustling,” Sutphin said. “LCA is a quality program, so we knew we needed to keep the pressure on. We like to get up and down the court. We were able to do that some tonight and we do well with that.”

Pulaski County outscored LCA 16-11 in the third, but the big key was holding the Bulldogs scoreless for a long stretch of the second and third. They completed with win with a 7-5 showing in the fourth to seal the deal.

“We’re happy to win, but we want to keep getting better,” junior Maddie Ratcliff said. “We’re going to keep working hard.”

Freshman Ally Fleenor was one of five freshmen in the scoring column for the Lady Cougars Friday.

“Hard work and hustle pays off, but we know we still have a lot to get done,” she said. “We’re really excited that we’ll get to play at home at least one more time.”

Fleenor led the Lady Cougars in scoring with a team and game high 13 points. She added seven rebounds a steal and a block. Fellow freshman Taryn Blankenship scored nine points in time limited by foul trouble, along with eight rebounds, three assists and a steal. Ratcliff also scored nine, earned two rebounds, had three assists and three steals.

Freshman Erin Russell scored four points and had one rebound. Freshman Courtney Cregger had four points, seven rebounds and a block. Junior Kassidy Secrist added three points. Junior Alaina Akers scored two points, had one rebound, one assist and a steal. Finally, freshman Hailey Capps celebrated her 15th birthday by scoring the first varsity point of her career with a free throw late in the game. Junior Jaira McNair also recorded a rebound.

The Lady Cougars recorded 27 total rebounds. LCA was only able to haul in nine. With the win the Lady Cougars move to 18-7 on the season and will host William Byrd Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the Cougar Den. The winner of that game will take on the winner of the Jefferson Forest versus Carroll County matchup in the Region championship.

“We want to thank everyone for coming out again tonight,” said Fleenor. “It’s great to get that support. We would love to see the gym full again Tuesday for our semifinal game.”

The Lady Cougars got the better of the Terriers in their two regular season matchups. They defeated Byrd at home Dec. 5 by a final score of 62-40 and then Jan. 15 they won 56-45 on the road.

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