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Cougars working to get out of slump

By DAVID GRAVELY

sports@southwesttimes.com

 

Change can be a tough thing to deal with. In sports, much like in life, the ones that can overcome adversity and rise to the challenges put before them are normally the ones that have the best chance of success in the long run.

 

The Cougar basketball program is facing some of those changes, along with a tough schedule of quality teams, as first-year head coach Tyler Cannoy installs his system.

 

Pulaski County is currently 6-8 with a matchup with Christiansburg scheduled for Friday night in the Cougar Den. The Blue Demons are currently 12-4 and won the first matchup between the two teams 75-65 at Christiansburg.

 

The Blue Demons have lost to Liberty Christian, Salem, Cave Spring and Patrick Henry. All four of those teams are expected to make deep runs in the playoffs.

 

The Cougars have losses to Carroll County (8-5), Radford (10-2), George Wythe (9-5), Blacksburg (5-5), Cave Spring (13-1), Salem (9-5) and Christiansburg (12-4).

 

Pulaski County has wins over Graham (8-4), William Byrd (5-10), Carroll County (8-5), Abingdon (7-6) and Hidden Valley (3-11).

 

Their most recent game was a road trip to Salem to face the Spartans. Unfortunately for the Cougars, a third-quarter scoring slump left them with a 67-59 loss.

 

The Cougars jumped out to an early 15-9 lead at the end of the first quarter. Three-pointers from Hayden Gray and Josh Bourne paced Pulaski County. Salem picked up the pressure in the second quarter, outscoring the Cougars 19-17 to narrow the Cougar lead to 32-28.

 

The wheels fell off for Pulaski County in the third quarter. Salem held the Cougars to just six points while adding 18 to their tally, bringing the score to 46-38 in favor of the Spartans heading into the final period.

 

The Cougars regrouped and reloaded, outscoring Salem 21-20 in the final period. Gray hit three three-pointers and Peyton Blackburn added another to help the Cougar effort, but the Spartans earned the 67-59 victory.

 

Gray led Pulaski County with 24 points. Blackburn and AJ McCloud scored nine points each. Bourne added seven points. JJ Gulley scored six. Clay Phillips added two points and Corvin Carter and Chayton Rollins scored one point each.

 

Ethan English led the Spartans with a game-high 36 points.

 

The Cougars made good on nine of 17 free-throw attempts. Salem was good for 18 of 22.

 

In junior varsity action, the younger Cougars took a tough loss, falling 31-34 to the Spartans. The JV team has now lost four games in a row and are 8-7 overall.

 

The varsity Cougars will now prepare for Patrick Henry, who they will face in the Adam Ward Classic at Salem High School Friday, Jan. 31, at 7:30 p.m. The JV contest with Patrick Henry will be at Patrick Henry Thursday, Jan. 30, at 6 p.m. They’ll follow that up with a trip to Hidden Valley Tuesday, Feb. 4.

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