Cougars upend Bobcats in thriller


Patriot Publishing

MAX MEADOWS – What a difference a day and a game makes.

Coming off an horrific performance the night before and playing without their head coach due to sickness, the Pulaski County Cougars pulled off a huge win Friday night over Radford, 43-41.

The victory gave the Cougars third place in the annual First Community Bank Tournament at Fort Chiswell High School.

Down 31-22 going into the third quarter, the Cougars showed fight and tenacity in the final quarter and would outscore the Bobcats 15-6 to cut the deficit to 38-37 with 2:45 remaining in the game.

The two teams exchanged buckets with Lane Nester hitting a jumper for the Cougars and Radford’s Luke Woodard knocking down a three to make the score Radford 41- Pulaski Co. 39.

Both teams would then either miss shots or commit turnovers, with 1:08 left.

The Cougars’ Nester would drive and get fouled with 1:02 showing. He knocked down both free throws to tie the game at 41.

Radford would miss a short jumper with 24.1 seconds and the Cougars would call a timeout at mid-court. They would then miss not one but two short shots and on the second miss Radford would knock the ball out of bounds.

The clock showed 0.7 seconds left.

The Cougars inbounded the ball under the Radford goal and Tootie O’Dell threw the ball up in the lane. Nester caught it and launched a shot all in one motion, with the ball hit nothing but the bottom of the net as the horn sounded.

With that, the Cougars had defeated the state runners-up from last season, 43-41.

“This was a great win for our head coach and this basketball program,”  said acting head coach Rajai Hines. “These kids answered the challenge I threw out to them. I told them we got to play defense. We’ve  got  to show some toughness and desire. They answered the call tonight.  I’m so proud of these guys. Last night was really bad.”

The game started slowly with Radford up 5-3 after the opening quarter. The Bobcats would stretch that advantage to 18-12 at intermission.

The game was a defensive struggle. Pulaski County had committed 10 turnovers in the first half, but found themselves only down six points.

Nester scored  a game-high 21 points, with 18 of those after halftime. He actually scored 13 points in the final stanza. The Cougars outscored the  Bobcats 21-10 in the final quarter to rally for the victory.  Fellow senior Marcus Reed had six points and six rebounds, and Justus Hash had five points.

Radford had no one in double figures. Luke woodard and Sincere Taylor both had nine points, and Daniel Dehart-Lewis chipped in with seven.

What a difference a day and a game makes, indeed. The Cougars  answered adversity and played with urgency. Hustle, playing defense and wanting to can and will bring good things.


Pul. Co. – 3 – 9 – 10 – 21 = 43

Radford – 5 – 13 – 13 – 10 = 41


Pul. Co. – Nester 21, Reed 6, O’Dell 2, Harlow 3, Hash 5, Anderson 2, Lawrence 2, Carrasco 2, Radford – Woodard 9, Martin 7, Taylor 9, Ferguson 3, Kanipe 6, Dehart-Lewis 7


3-PT. Goals – PC – 4 ( Nester 2, Hash, Harlow), Radford – 2- ( Woodard 2)


Total FG’s – Pul. Co. – 16, Radford – 12

FT’s – Pul. Co. – 7-11, Radford 15-24


Total Fouls – Pul. Co. – 20, Radford – 15


Fouled Out- Pul. Co. – Carrasco


Technicals – Pul. Co. – Hash


Other games on the final day of the First Community Bank Christmas Tournament  saw the Carroll County Cavaliers win the first place trophy by beating Narrows, 71-52. Davis Reitzel had a game-high 28 points and 10 rebounds. Bryce Smoot had 17 for the victory. Narrows got 14 points from Kolier Pruett, 12 from Carter Holmes, and eight from Gavin Hazelwood. Carroll County head coach Anthony Barnes in an emotional Cavalier locker room said, “We like to pressure teams and make them work for what they get. Our defense was really good, and I think it bothered Narrows. Isaiah Easter did a good job on Pruett and offensively – what can you say about Davis Reitzel. He hustles and plays with energy all game long on both defense and offense.”

Narrows head coach Patrick Bailey remarked, “They pressured us and we had some turnovers that hurt us. We faced some adversity and we got to play through that and we didn’t. “Carroll plays hard and their defense bothered us.”

The fifth place game saw East Wilkes (NC) hold on to beat Fort Chiswell, 73-65. The Cardinals got 24 points from Seth Lambert and 15 from Andrew Tharpe. The Pioneers (6-4) were led in scoring by Brayden Billings’ 18 points and Kenton Sutphin’s nine points.

The seventh place game saw Grayson County beat Tazewell, 44-28. Grayson got 16 points from Austin Dowell and nine from Eli Gillespie. Tazewell got eight points from senior Chase Brown and five points from senior T J Jarrett.