Christiansburg– Millbrook doubled up on the basketball on the perimeter and took the Pulaski County girls out of their half court offense on the way to a, 65-58 state quarterfinal win Friday evening. The loss ended the Cougar girls’ season at 21-7, and Millbrook moved to 27-2.
The numbers tell the story. Pulaski Co. shot better, much better, but it didn’t get enough shots. The Cougars were 23 of 42, 57.2%. Millbrook was just 22 of 52, 42.3%, but the difference was in two areas. The Pioneers helped themselves on the offensive backboards, but Pulaski Co. committed 26 painful turnovers. Twice in the game the Cougars had eight-point leads, but turnovers got Millbrook back in the fight. During one stretch of the second quarter Pulaski Co. was up eight, but then turned the ball over on five consecutive possessions.
Maddie Ratcliff hit a three in the final second of the first quarter to give PCHS a, 16-12 lead. But the turnovers kept mounting. The Cougars had 16 at the half, but Keslyn Secrist scored a drive off the baseline to tie the game at 29 at the break.
Millbrook led 48-42 after three quarters as the Cougars turned the ball over seven more times. Pulaski Co. hit six of eight shots, but were still down by six going into the fourth quarter. The turnovers kept taking away scoring opportunities from Pulaski Co. Millbrook turned the ball over 10 times in the game.
Millbrook used its height advantage and tossed the ball over the Cougar defense in the fourth quarter as the Pioneers started to take time off the clock. It worked. The Cougars were forced to foul and the Pioneers hit six of nine from the stripe. The Cougars pulled within six with 1:02 left but Emily Magee hit four straight free throws and Millbrook hung on.
Kennedy Rooks led the Pioneers with 17 points, Avery O’Roke scored 15, Magee and Ali Houck both 13. Pulaski Co. was led by Maddie Ratcliffe with 19 points, Secrist finished with 13, Ally Fleenor 12, and Taryn Blankenship 11. Erin Russell suffered an ankle injury early in the game and was not able to return for the Cougars.
By DAN CALLAHAN, The Patriot