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Next step a big one for the Lady Cougars

By DAVID GRAVELY
sports@southwesttimes.com

 

The Pulaski County Lady Cougar basketball team won a big game Friday in Lynchburg. By taking down E.C. Glass 70-57, the Lady Cougars have earned the right to host the Region 4C runner-up in the first round of the VHSL Group 4A State Playoffs Friday, March 6, at Christiansburg High School.

 

The opponent is a tough one.

 

The Millbrook High School Pioneers lost a tough matchup against Loudoun Valley in the Region 4C title game, 87-52. It was only the second loss of the season for the Pioneers.

 

Their first loss was a surprising one that came at the hands of James Wood Friday, Feb. 7, by a final score of 67-59. By winning that game, both James Wood and Millbrook finished the Northwestern District regular season as co-champions with a record of 13-1 each. That forced a tie-breaker game that was more easily won by Millbrook, making them the No. 1 seed heading into their district tournament.

 

With their 26-2 record, fourth-year Pioneer Head Coach Erick Green Sr. will come in with a variety of weapons. They feature size, speed and several players that are deadly from long range. They play a fast-paced game that features a pressure defense and they like to create turnovers and score in transition.

 

Yes … that sounds a lot like Pulaski County.

 

The Pioneers have a long history of excellence in girls’ basketball. They have won at least a share of the last 12 straight Northwestern District regular-season championships. Last season they finished 22-6, falling to Carroll County in the opening round of the state playoffs. That win by the Cavaliers put them in a game with Pulaski County, which the Lady Cougars won to advance to the state title game.

 

The 2017-18 season saw the Pioneers finish the season with a perfect record of 32-0, beating Loudoun Valley for the 4A State Championship. Their 2016-17 season ended with a 29-2 record and a 62-48 loss to Kings Fork in the state championship game.

 

With that said, the Pioneers and Pulaski County match up pretty well.

 

The Pioneers have played seven teams with winning records. Their opponents have an overall record of 173-173 this season. Seven of the teams they have played have won less than 10 games. Their toughest opponents have been Jefferson, West Virginia (14-9), Tuscarora (17-7), Fauquier (14-9), James Wood (21-5) and Loudoun Valley (22-0). The Pioneers have scored 1,851 points this season while allowing 1,041 points.

 

Pulaski County is now 21-6 on the season and comes into the game as the Region 4D champions. The Lady Cougars have played 12 teams with winning records and eight teams with 20 wins or more. Four Lady Cougar opponents have 23 wins or better.

 

Pulaski County opponents have a current record of 263 wins and 142 losses. The Lady Cougars have scored 1,636 points while allowing 1,268 points. The toughest opponents Pulaski County has faces this season include Carroll County (23-1, lost to Abingdon in Region 3D playoffs), Floyd County (18-7, still playing), Abingdon (23-4, lost to Lord Botetourt in the Region 3D title game and still playing), Menchville (21-3, lost to Lake Taylor in playoffs), St. Anne’s-Belfield (20-6, lost in VISAA state semi’s), Miller School (23-9, lost in VISAA state semi’s), Spotswood (26-2, Region 3C champions), Patrick Henry (21-5, Region 5D champions) and E.C. Glass (22-4, Region 4D runner-up).

 

This group of Lady Cougars has played tough competition and has earned their 21-6 record. That record could have been better had sophomores Ally Fleenor and Taryn Blankenship not been benched early in the season due to injuries.

 

In the end, none of those other games this season matter. The only thing that matters is what happens this week. The only game that matters is the one being played Friday night at Christiansburg High School. The winner will advance, the loser will pack up the gear and move on to spring sports.

 

On the other side of the state, the competition is just as tough. Region 4A is contributing Hampton and Grafton high schools to the bracket. Hampton (24-1) defeated Grafton (23-2) 74-42 in the Region 4A title game. Hampton will host the loser of the Hanover (22-1) versus Monacan (22-2) game, which was set to be played Monday for the Region 4B championship. Grafton will travel to the winner of that game.

 

Game time Friday at Christiansburg High School has been set for 6 p.m. Doors will open at 4:45 p.m. and tickets will be $10 for the VHSL state quarterfinal game.

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