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Lady Cougars fall 58-65 to Millbrook

By DAVID GRAVELY

sports@southwesttimes.com

 

CHRISTIANSBURG – The Lady Cougar basketball team saw their incredible season come to an end Friday as they fell to the Millbrook Pioneers in the Group 4A State Semifinals at Christiansburg High School.

David Gravely/SWT – Senior Maddie Ratcliff goes up for two of her 21 points Friday against Millbrook.

 

It was the kind of game you hate to see either team lose. Millbrook (27-2) came into the game after their second loss of the season at the hands of Loudoun Valley in the Region 4C championship game. Pulaski County (21-7) defeated E.C. Glass to win the Region 4D title on the road. Both teams came into the game with high hopes and excited about the prospects of continuing their season for at least one more game.

 

Pulaski County looked good early, taking a 16-12 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Pioneers outscored the Lady Cougars 17-13 in the second quarter, leaving the two squads tied at 29-29 at the halftime break. Freshman Keslyn Secrist hit a layup with only seconds remaining in the half to bring on the tie.

 

Then the height of the Pioneers started to bother Pulaski County. After leading by as many as eight points in the first half, the Lady Cougars found themselves getting outrebounded. Turnovers also became an issue. Pulaski County committed 18 in the course of the game, many of those in the second half.

 

Millbrook was consistent. They took advantage of Pulaski County mistakes and hit big shots. They moved the ball well and made good passes. The Pioneers outscored the Lady Cougars 17-13 in the third quarter to take a 48-42 lead into the final period.

 

Pulaski County never gave up, despite trailing by as many as 11 points at one point in the fourth. Senior Maddie Ratcliff scored eight of her 21 points in the final period, the last basket of her career as a Lady Cougar coming at the 1:05 mark. Head Coach Bradley Sutphin immediately called a timeout, but Pulaski County was forced to foul the Pioneers to stop the clock. Millbrook was solid all night at the free throw line, hitting six of 12 attempts in the first half and seven of 10 in the second half, including their final four attempts. 

 

With time running out, Secrist hit a three-pointer with 31.8 seconds remaining to move the score to 55-61 in favor of the Pioneers. The final shot of the night came from senior Alaina Akers, who drilled a three-pointer to bring about the final score of 58-65 and end the season for Pulaski County.

 

“Hat’s off to Millbrook, that’s a very good basketball team,” Coach Sutphin said. “We made a few mistakes tonight and they were able to capitalize on them. They just made a few more plays than we did. It hurts right now because this team is so close, but in the end I’m still so proud of these girls and this team. They’ve been an absolute pleasure to coach and as much as I hate to see this season end, I know that these young ladies gave it their best shot and we can hold our heads up. I hate to see it all come to an end, especially for our seniors. They have really helped put our program in a great place and we can’t thank them enough for all of their hard work and dedication. This team is a family and we love them all.”

 

Ratcliff led the Lady Cougars with 21 points, four rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocked shots. Secrist added 13 points, one rebound and two assists. Sophomore Ally Fleenor scored 12 points and had seven rebounds, one assist, one steal and four blocked shots. Akers ended the game with three points, two rebounds and an assist. Sophomore Erin Russell left the game with what appeared to be a rolled ankle. While she was walking on it after the game, it was clear that she was in a small amount of pain.

 

“I just want to thank everyone who had anything to do with helping make this season such a success,” Sutphin said. “Our other coaches did a great job. Our administration and fans did an incredible job of supporting us and keeping the team excited. Our program took another positive step forward this season. We didn’t reach our ultimate goal, but I think our kids are hungry for it. I’m excited for the future of our program.”

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