Cougar girls headed back to state; Pulaski County routs Salem, 69-40

Cougar girls headed back to state; Pulaski County routs Salem, 69-40
Ally Fleenor led all scorers with 17 points (Brian Bishop/PC Patriot)

The Pulaski County girls basketball program will once again take its game to the Class 4 state tournament in Richmond next week. The opportunity to return to the state championship game was won in a big way at PCHS Tuesday evening, 69-40 over Salem, the third time the Cougars had handily defeated the Spartans this season. It was the Class 4, Region D semifinal.

     The Cougars are now 20-6 on the season, and will face E.C. Glass in Lynchburg Friday for the region championship. The top seeded Hilltoppers defeated Blacksburg to gain the final. Salem finishes 11-13 on the season. Both teams in each region final (4 regions) will makeup the eight team state tournament field in each classification. So regardless of the outcome Friday, both Pulaski Co., and Glass will qualify for the state tourney, however, winning the region trophy and higher seeding in the state is very much at stake, and valuable.
     “We played well much of the time tonight,” said PCHS coach Brad Sutphin. “It always helps to get off to a good start and we did. It’s great that we’ll get another chance in the state. We want to get back to that title game again, but first comes the region championship in Lynchburg Friday. We want that again. I was really happy for the seniors tonight who played their final game on their home court. We got to play everybody, plenty of playing time all around, and that is always a good thing. Now we head to Glass,” said Sutphin.
     Pulaski County started the game hitting eight of its first 10 shots, and led 19-8 at the end of the first quarter. Ally Fleenor and Keslyn Secrist combined to hit five of six shots. The Cougars then outscored the Spartans 22-6 in the second quarter for a huge, 41-15 halftime lead. Salem hit only six of 21 shots and had 11 turnovers at the break. Fleenor was seven of nine for 14 points, and Keslyn Secrist hit all four of her shots for nine.
     The lead ballooned to 61-27 after three quarters, and Cougar starters spent only about half the final two quarters on the court. Salem finished with 20 turnovers for the game, Pulaski Co. 13. The Spartans managed to hit just 10 of 43 shots, 23%. Salem was 20 of 32 from the free throw line, half its points for the game. The Cougars finished 26 of 57, 45% from the field and connected on 11 of 17 charity shots.

Keslyn Secrist added 12 for the Cougars. (Brian Bishop/PC Patriot)
     Fleenor was the game’s top scorer with 17 points on eight of 11 from the field, and one of two from the line. Keslyn Secrist hit all five of her shots for 12. Erin Russell had a big second half for PCHS, hitting four of eight shots and both her free throws for a dozen points. Paige Huff hit three of 13 shots, and both her free throws for eight points, Maddie Ratcliff scored six points, Kassidy Secrist five, Alaina Akers four, and Taryn Blankenship and Courtney Cregger both finished with three.
     Abbie Baker led Salem with nine points, Kennedy Scales scored eight, Samatha Mitchem seven, and McKenzie Moran six.
By DAN CALLAHAN, The Patriot