Guard Hayden Gray started out scorching hot, and Pulaski County never trailed on the way to a convincing, 65-56 victory over Blacksburg Saturday afternoon at PCHS. The win moved the Cougars to 3-5 in River Ridge District play and 8-10 overall. The Bruins fell to 4-5 in district play and 12-7 overall.
Gray hit four of five shots in the first quarter, two of them 3s, and came up with two steals that resulted in Pulaski County baskets. The Cougars were up 20-16. In the second stanza Gray stayed hot, hitting all four of his shots, and nine of 10 the first half for 19 points at the break. And this time he got help from a solid floor game from his running mate at guard Josh Bourne, and Peyton Blackburn finished the first half with eight points and two 3’s.
The Cougars were 17 of 25 shooting the first half, a very warm 68%. The Bruins were 12 of 27, 45%. But turnovers were huge too. Pulaski County’s pressure defense forced nine Blacksburg first half turnovers and after the Cougars hit 10 of 14 shots the second quarter the lead was out to 13, 45-32 as the teams went to the locker room.
The third quarter was cold for both teams, and the Bruins managed to outscore the Cougars, 10-8. PCHS hit only three of 11 shots, bur Blacksburg wasn’t much better, hitting just three of 10.
Then with the lead down to eight, Pulaski Co. coach Tyler Cannoy decided to change things up. Most of the fourth quarter featured an outstanding floor game by Pulaski County, and when the Cougars went to a full spread, three times the ball nailed open players breaking off the baseline. Luke Russell and Blackburn split three layups as the Cougars pulled away down the stretch.
It was a satisfying victory for the Cougars and Cannoy had much to be pleased with. “Hayden had it going. He can fill it up. Glad we got him. He could have kept going probably, but I wanted to make sure we put this win away. I was pleased with our floor play. Bourne and Backburn both had good games. It was a good team win, and our wins must be team things. That’s who we are. But this was a nice one. We also created some turnovers which was big. Now we got PH Monday night right back here at home and see if we can keep playing well,” said Cannoy.
Gray finished nine of 13 from the field and three of five from the free throw line for a game high 24 points. Blackburn was five of six from the floor and two of three from the line for 13 points. Bourne was three of four and two of three for nine. Russell scored six, and A.J. McCloud and J.J. Gully both had four and Peyton McDaniel hit a big three. Josh Gholston and Matt Joyce led Blacksburg, both scored 13.
The Bruins were 19 of 45 shooting for the game, 42.2%. Pulaski Co. shot 24 of 42 for the game, 57.2%. Blacksburg committed 17 turnovers, the Cougars 10.
By DAN CALLAHAN, The Patriot