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Ratcliff: ‘I want us to be relentless’

By DAVID GRAVELY

editor@southwesttimes.com

 

Tuesday Pulaski County High School announced the hiring of Scott Ratcliff as the new head coach of the Lady Cougar basketball team. While Coach Ratcliff may be a new face on the Lady Cougar bench, he is more than familiar with the program and the young ladies who make up the team.

Mike Turner/SWT – New Lady Cougar Basketball Head Coach Scott Ratcliff talks with Jaden Lawson during a Pulaski Wolves tournament before the COVID-19 crisis began.

 

Ratcliff, a lifelong resident of Pulaski County and Class of 1986 graduate, has been deeply involved in Pulaski County basketball for many years at the rec, AAU and middle school level. When asked about his newest coaching opportunity, Ratcliff beamed with anticipation.

 

“I’m very excited and honored to be honest,” he said. “I’m looking forward to jumping in on this ship and helping move all of our sports forward. It’s an exciting time in Pulaski County. The school just made a big hire in the football program this year and the boys’ basketball program last year. There is a lot of excitement in the air and I feel like the kids feed off that. As much as I want to see our girls’ basketball program excel I also want to see our other programs perform. When any of us win it’s good for Pulaski County.”

 

Ratcliff originally got involved with the Pulaski Wolves AAU program in 2001 before starting his own team in 2004. Since then his Wolves have put together an impressive run that has included several national championship appearances in both Orlando, Florida, and Tennessee.

 

His teams have played throughout Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and other nearby states. They’ve played in big-name tournaments against some of the best competition in the country. Each time, they’ve either won or made an outstanding showing.

 

“We’ve won more first-place trophies than second place,” Ratcliff said with a smile. “We’ve beaten some teams that had no idea where Pulaski County even was on a map. When we first got started you could tell that our girls were a little intimidated to play in some of the bigger venues we were in. Some of those girls had never been to gyms with crowds like we saw. We worked hard and built their confidence up though. They started to believe in themselves and then we started making some other people believe.”

 

One of the positive points of hiring Ratcliff is that he is already very familiar with most of the players on the Lady Cougar roster. He also knows many of those in the middle school and AAU pipeline.

 

“All but one of the current players on the varsity team have played for us at some point,” Ratcliff said. “We’re pretty familiar with all of them. I think that’s going to help us have a smooth transition. We want to continue to build on those relationships and grow. There are a lot of young ladies that aren’t playing basketball right now that maybe should be. We need people who are committed to the program and are willing to stick through the hard work it’s going to take to get us where we want to go.”

 

For those who haven’t had a chance to see a Scott Ratcliff team play, there may be questions about how he coaches the players to play the game. What will he be using offensively and defensively? What will be the priorities?

 

“I want us to be relentless,” he said. “We will be an aggressive and attacking team. We will be physical but smart. We also have to be in much better shape than we are now. We want to put the hammer down and not let up until we win. Our offense and defense will be based on who’s on the floor and the situation for the most part, but we will try to keep the tempo high as long as possible each game. To do that we will have to work even harder than game speed during practice. The girls who have played for me on the Wolves know what it’s going to be like and I’m sure they are already telling the others. We’re not going to rush right into it full speed. It’s going to take us a little while, but we will be physically better.”

 

Coach Ratcliff will come into a very good situation. The Lady Cougars have made deep runs into the Class 4 Region 4 state playoffs, finishing as the state runner-up two seasons ago with a team full of very young talent. While Pulaski County will miss the services of graduates like Maddie Ratcliff, Alaina Akers, Hanna Walson, Kassidy Secrist and Bailley Nash, the future looks very bright for the Lady Cougars.

 

“There is enough talent right now in the pipeline that we should be winners,” Ratcliff said. “Being a winner is good, but just winning a few games isn’t good enough. We need to be better than good. We want to be the team that puts pressure on every other team at Pulaski County High School to perform and execute to the best of their ability. There is talent enough here to win big. We just need to put in the work and make it happen.”

 

Coach Ratcliff has begun planning and working on putting together a staff. Workouts for the Lady Cougar basketball program are expected to begin very soon.

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