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Lady Cougars clinch regular season title

By DAVID GRAVELY, sports@southwesttimes.com


With 4:44 remaining in the first quarter the Cave Spring Knights took a one-point lead over the Lady Cougar basketball team. That lead lasted about 20 seconds and never happened again as Pulaski County earned their 12th victory in a row, 66-48, and in the process clinched the River Ridge District regular season championship. The victory also earns the Lady Cougars the top seed in the district tournament, which begins Saturday.


“Players win championships,” Lady Cougar Head Coach Bradley Sutphin said. “We can coach them until we’re blue in the face, but they’re the ones that have to get it done on the court. They did that and I’m proud of them.”


The Lady Cougars led 14-10 at the end of the first quarter. Cave Spring was not ready to concede the win and fought tooth and nail the entire game. The Lady Cougars outscored the Knights 19-15 in the second quarter to lead 33-25 heading into the halftime break.


The Knights (13-7, 7-4) were held to just nine points in the third quarter while Pulaski County added 16, bringing the score to 49-34 heading into the final period. The Lady Cougars won that quarter as well, 17-14, to bring about the final score.


“I’m just really proud of the girls,” Sutphin said. “At the start of the season we talked about what we did and didn’t accomplish last season. It was a great run, but we really didn’t win anything. We lost the district, region and state title games. Every day our short term goal is to win that day. Our next goal was to win the regular season title, and tonight we accomplished that. We’re going to stay focused and take one day at a time. Every game matters. As long as we keep that in mind, I believe in this team.”


Senior Maddie Ratcliff led the way for the Lady Cougars with 16 points, six rebounds and seven assists. Sophomore Ally Fleenor backed her up with 11 points, five rebounds and a steal. Freshman Paige Huff added 10 points and a rebound. Freshman Keslyn Secrist scored nine points and grabbed two rebounds, had two assists and a blocked shot. Sophomore Taryn Blankenship scored seven and rebounded four. Senior Alaina Akers added five points, three rebounds and a block. Senior Hanna Walson scored four, had four rebounds, an assist and a steal. Sophomore Courtney Cregger added two points, seven rebounds and a steal. Senior Kassidy Secrist scored two with one rebound and one assist. Sophomore Erin Russell had one assist. 


Kierra Mooney led the Knights with 20 points. Zada Porter added 18.


Before the game, the program honored their seniors  Ratcliff, Akers, Walson, Kassidy Secrist and Bailley Nash have been in the program and dedicated time, blood, sweat and tears to help the Lady Cougars in the position they now find themselves in.


“These seniors have been incredible for our program,” Sutphin said. “They’ve put in the work and they’ve put in the time. They were here when we weren’t winning and they stuck together. They have been leaders for us and we can’t express how much they mean to us. We’re looking forward to seeing how they finish out their careers.”


The five seniors started the game and, with the lead and time running out, they took the floor together a final time as the Class of 2020 before the underclassmen relieved them.


In the junior varsity contest, Pulaski County earned a 53-31 win over the younger Knights. Tori Vest led the way with 17 points. Jaden Lawson scored 13. Hannah Keefer  and Kenzlee Jones added six points each. Hailey Capps scored five. Brook Goble, Alyric Vaughn and Andi Ratcliff scored two points each.


The two squads will finish out the regular season on the road Thursday when they pay a visit to the Salem Spartans. JV action will begin at 5:30 followed by the varsity contest at 7 p.m.



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