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Lady Cougars hosting RRD championship

By DAVID GRAVELY

sports@southwesttimes.com

 

The last time a Pulaski County Lady Cougar varsity basketball team was in the position they now find themselves in, the current crop of Lady Cougars was much younger.

 

Seniors Alicia Noble and Mary Catherine Martin were in the fourth grade and playing rec league basketball. Juniors Kassidy Secrist, Alaina Akers, Maddie Ratcliff, Jaira McNair, Hanna Walson and Bailley Nash were all third-graders. Freshmen Ally Fleenor, Erin Russell, Taryn Blankenship, Courtney Cregger and Hailey Capps were fresh-faced first-graders who were just getting their basketball careers started.

 

The Lady Cougars finished the 2010-11 regular season with a record of 16-5 overall and 9-1 in the River Ridge District. They earned the regular season title with a 59-46 win over Salem. Fans will remember names like Raiven Patterson, Kasey Holcomb, Sydney Anderson, Elizabeth Thacker, Kelli Duncan, Savannah Jones, Nikki Shay and Hannah Chaffin. One of the current Lady Cougars, freshman Erin Russell, is the cousin of former Lady Cougar basketball and softball player Kelli Duncan.

 

 

Fast forward a few days and those same Lady Cougars found themselves playing for the district tournament championship against those same Salem Spartans. After leading by as much as 17 points and still up by 12 with just over six minutes remaining, the Lady Cougars watched as Salem went on a furious run to take a one-point lead, their first lead of the game, with just seconds remaining.

 

Head Coach Jason Grubb called a timeout and drew up the play. Patterson sent the ball inbounds to Holcomb, who was double teamed. She sent the ball back to Patterson after a quick sprint down the court, who weaved her way around the traffic and sent a running one-handed shot toward the basket. The shot dropped through the basket with less than one second remaining on the clock at Roanoke College. It was the first and only time in the history of Pulaski County High School that the Lady Cougars won both the regular season and district tournament championships.

 

Fast forward to 2019 and the Lady Cougars will now play for the River Ridge District tournament championship tonight against Patrick Henry, who earned the RRD regular season crown with a record of 17-5.

 

The Lady Cougars (19-6) earned their right to play for the title tonight with a 66-57 win over a tough Christiansburg squad Wednesday. The Lady Cougars led 15-9 after the first period and held a 30-18 lead at the halftime break.

 

Christiansburg (19-4) didn’t lay down and give up, however, and began a rally that brought them back and earned the lead by outscoring Pulaski County 23-12 in the third period.

 

Trailing 42-41 heading into the final period, the Lady Cougars went on an 11-3 run to regain the lead. The gutsy young squad was able to hold off the Blue Demons down the stretch to advance to the title game.

 

Ratcliff led the way for the Lady Cougars with 17 points, three rebounds, six steals and two assists. Fleenor kicked in 15 points, eight rebounds, a steal and a block. Blankenship scored eight points, hauled in five rebounds and had one steal and one assist. Cregger scored seven, rebounded eight, stole three and had one assist. Secrist also scored seven, earned five rebounds and a steal. Russell scored five, had two rebounds and two assists. Akers scored four points, had four rebounds, a steal and an assist. Noble scored three points and had a rebound. Walson also recorded two rebounds.

 

The Lady Cougars and Patriots have faced off twice this season. The Patriots earned a 65-56 win over Pulaski County Jan. 18 followed by a 56-42 win over the Lady Cougars Jan. 23.

 

“I’m proud of the way our girls played last night,” Lady Cougar Head Coach Bradley Sutphin said. “Christiansburg is a tough team and we played well. Now we need to put together a great game against Patrick Henry. They are another great team that has plenty of talent. We’re excited to be here and hopefully we can get a good crowd to come out and support us Friday. These girls deserve it.”

 

Game time tonight for the River Ridge District Tournament championship is set for 6 p.m. at Pulaski County High School.

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