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Lady Cougars punch ticket to title game!

State Championship game set for Saturday at PCHS

 

By DAVID GRAVELY

editor@southwesttimes.com

 

Winter weather advisories were in effect for the entire area Wednesday evening, but the coldest thing in Pulaski County was the ice water running through the veins of Keslyn Secrist and her Lady Cougar teammates as they dug their way out of a hole to defeat Loudoun Valley 41-39 on a last second shot in overtime.

David Gravely/SWT – Lady Cougar sophomore Keslyn Secrist lays up the winning basket as time expires Wednesday against Loudoun Valley.

 

“We weren’t sure who was going to be open, but when I got the ball I knew I had to try,” the lanky sophomore Secrist said. “That was a really good team. We were all having trouble getting shots to fall, but in the end the biggest one of the night did. This is great. We’re all really excited!”

 

Pulaski County came out slow in the first period, but so did the Vikings. Loundoun Valley held a 9-7 lead at the end of the first period. The Vikings went on to outscore the Lady Cougars 11-8 in the second period to take a 20-15 lead into the halftime break.

 

“We just kept pushing,” junior Ally Fleenor said. “We kept working and looking for good shots. We tried to stay out of foul trouble early and I think that hurt us a little at first. I feel like we settled in a little better after halftime.”

 

Loudoun Valley added one point to their lead in the third, outscoring the Lady Cougars 11-10 for a 31-25 lead heading into the final period of regulation.

 

That was when things changed. Pulaski County shut down the Vikings, holding them scoreless in the fourth period. Meanwhile, the Lady Cougars slowly added to their score. Fleenor hit two free throws early in the period then hit a layup with 3:26 remaining to get Pulaski County within two. The Cougar defense kept pushing. Paige Huff made a stop with a steal. Secrist and Jaden Lawson forced a 10-second violation. Then Taryn Blankenship hit a shot to tie the game at 31-31 with 1:20 remaining in regulation. Fleenor found herself with the ball with 4.2 seconds remaining, but her shot was off, sending the game into overtime.

 

The Lady Cougars got the ball to start the four minute overtime period, but Kate Brennan hit a three-pointer to put the Vikings up 34-31 with 3:08 remaining. Secrist was fouled and hit one of two from the line, putting the score at 34-32. After a free throw by the Vikings put them up 35-32, Fleenor went on a run. She hit the front end of a one-and-one to make it 35-33, then found the ball after missing the second shot and was fouled again. This time she hit both shots, knotting the score at 35-35. With 1:20 on the clock she went to the foul line again, hitting both shots to put Pulaski County up 37-35. The two teams traded buckets again, with Secrist adding a two free throws for Pulaski County. 

 

With 5.2 seconds remaining in overtime and the score knotted up at 39-39, the ball went out of bounds on the Vikings on their side of the court. That’s when it happened. Secrist got the ball, drove down the court with Viking defenders in tow and flipped the ball up out of her left hand. The ball went through the hoop and the buzzer sounded. Pulaski County had found a way.

 

“That was a heck of a ball game,” Head Coach Scott Ratcliff said. “Man, that was a sophomore that took that shot! This was a great win against a really good team. Nothing but respect for those guys. This is a great thing for our program, our school and Pulaski County. These girls have been fourth quarter warriors as long as I’ve known them. It seems like this is just how they do. It sure would be a lot nicer if we didn’t have to cut it that close, but I can’t tell you how proud I am of these girls. This is great.”

 

Ally Fleenor led the Lady Cougars with a team and game high 20 points, five of those coming in the overtime period. Secrist had 10 points with five of those also coming in the overtime. Blankenship added six points, Courtney Cregger and Kenzlee Jones added two points each. Jaden Lawson scored one in the victory.

 

Louis Volker led the Vikings with 16 points before fouling out. Grace Wagers added six. Kate Brennan scored five. Alison Pike, Jane Bodomer and Ally Cassell scored four points each.

 

With the win the Lady Cougars move to 11-0 on the season and will now host the Louisa County Lions Saturday in the State Championship game. Louisa County is 14-0 and earned their trip to the title game with a 63-49 win over Grafton High School Saturday evening. Grafton finished the season 10-1.

 

An official announcement on game time for the Class 4 State Championship is expected soon.

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