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BACK-TO-BACK CHAMPS! Lady Cougars defeat Amherst County for Region title

By DAVID GRAVELY

editor@southwesttimes.com

 

Two years ago, a group of freshmen entered Pulaski County High School with high hopes. They wanted to make their mark on the Pulaski County record books, put as much hardware in the trophy case as possible and eventually, bring home a state championship to PCHS.

 

That group of freshmen, along with their older teammates, made it to the big dance, but they couldn’t win the big trophy. That group, with the addition of some new younger players, is in the hunt for another chance after blasting the Amherst County Lancers 70-19 Sunday to earn the Region 4D Championship in the Cougar Den.

 

“I’m proud of these girls,” Lady Cougar Head Coach Scott Ratcliff said. “They’ve put in a great effort against a bunch of really good teams this season. They’re doing what we’ve asked of them. Things get pretty serious from this point forward though.”

 

Pulaski County opened the game with an impressive run that left Amherst County trailing 16-0. The Lady Lancers finally got on the board late in the first period, but by that point the body language was clear that this game was a mismatch. Pulaski County led 20-3 after the first period. Things were even worse for Amherst County at the halftime break, as they trailed 43-10.

 

The Lady Cougars continued the pressure in the third period, despite giving the starters a break through most of the second half. Pulaski County led 61-16 after the third period before finishing the game on a running clock with the 70-19 win.

 

Every player that dressed played and scored. Keslyn Secrist led the way with 16 points. Taryn Blankenship added 12 and Ally Fleenor scored nine. Jaden Lawson scored seven points. Brook Goble added five. Erin Russell, Courtney Cregger and Kenzlee Jones scored four points each. Tori Vest added three points. Paige Huff, Hannah Keefer and Andi Ratcliff scored two points each. For Keefer and Ratcliff it was their first varsity points after outstanding seasons with the JV team. Jones was also a JV player, but she was able to score against Salem. The only player not dressed was Hailey Capps, who is out with an ankle injury.

 

The Lady Lancers were led by Margen Lloyd with six points. Savannah Massie chipped in five. McKayla Puckett scored three points. Kendra Smith and Chaleane Wall scored two points each. Kiarra Smith scored one.

 

With the win, the Lady Cougars move to 10-0 on the season.

 

“We’re really excited,” junior Taryn Blankenship said. “It’s been a struggle at times because of COVID-19, but everybody has done a great job to stay healthy.”

 

“Back-to-back champs,” junior Ally Fleenor said. “That’s pretty nice. We’re excited to be back in this spot.”

 

The next opponent will be much, much more difficult for Pulaski County. The last time the Lady Cougars took on the Loudoun Valley Vikings, Fleenor and her teammates were freshmen. Pulaski County had to travel to Woodgrove High School for the first round of the state playoffs. Pulaski County was the underdog, but someone forgot to tell the Lady Cougars. Pulaski County won that game 52-49.

 

This time, the matchup will be a battle of undefeated teams. Pulaski County is 10-0 with wins over Floyd County (4-6), Patrick Henry (6-2), Carroll County (11-2), Radford (8-3) and Salem (2-5). Those teams offer a combined record of 31-18.

 

The Vikings are 17-0 with wins over Broad Run (4-3), Lightridge (1-4), Independence (3-5), Loundoun County (6-8), Heritage (0-9), Broad Run (4-3), Tuscarora (8-5), Park View-Sterling (3-6) and Kettle Run (6-5). They defeated Tuscarora Feb. 10 by a score of 45-33 to advance to the state semi-finals. Their opponents have a combined record of 35 wins and 48 losses.

 

Loudoun Valley is averaging 58.8 points per game while only giving up an average of 25 points per game. The Lady Cougars are averaging 56.5 points per game while giving up an average of 39.2 points per game.

 

“It’s gonna be a tough one,” Coach Ratcliff said. “If we don’t come focused and ready to play it’ll all be over. We’re going to enjoy the rest of today and then get back to work Monday. This win was nice, but we were supposed to win. We can’t rest on this game or any of the others. Those are over now. We either come out with some fire and heart and play the way we’re supposed to play or things could go back really fast. We’re going to do everything we can to be ready.”

 

The game against Loudoun Valley is now set for Wednesday at Pulaski County High School at 6 p.m. The game will be livestreamed again on the high school Facebook page and on YouTube.

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