DOUG EADS, CJ Correspondent
After a disappointing 78-64 loss to Somerset in the next to last game of the regular season 11 days ago, Pulaski County head coach Al Gover noted immediately following that contest that Somerset was the best team in the 47th District.
Last night in the rematch between these two rivals in the championship game of the Boy’s 47th District Tournament, it was Pulaski County that proved for the fourth year in a row who the best team within the district really is.
Gover and company completed the four-peat at The Briar Patch last night, posting a convincing 83-63 victory over the Briar Jumpers, winning the Maroons’ fourth consecutive district crown.
And, it was a complete game effort for Gover’s club in very impressive fashion.
Blake Burton led PC by scoring a career-high 19 points in the win, while fellow sophomore Sean Ross notched a career-high 17 points, on a night when the Maroons looked every bit the part of a solid contender for a 12th Regional title.
“We were clicking pretty good tonight — our defense was really good and we had some intensity and urgency about us,” pointed out a very happy coach Gover, after his team moved to 23-6 on the season with the win.
“My fourth key on the board tonight was to just go out and play like Pulaski,” added the Maroon coach. “We know how we play and we know what we do, so I told them to just go out and play, and they came out ready tonight.”
Ironically enough, the game started off like it was going to be Somerset’s night.
On the first possession of the game, junior guard Cam Cheuvront banked in a three-pointer from deep off the right wing, giving the Jumpers a very quick, 3-0 lead.
That lead would be very short-lived however for the purple and gold.
Behind the play of Burton and Ross, PC methodically began to pull away from the Jumpers, thanks to an 8-0 spurt in the first stanza.
Taylor Gover hit a pair of three’s in the opening stanza, helping his club pull out to an 18-11 lead after the first period.
In the second frame, it was Somerset that went on a mini-run, and when Tyson Williams completed a three-point play, the Jumpers had trimmed the deficit to PC down to a single point at 23-22.
However, that would be as close as Somerset would get on this night.
The Jumpers were guilty of 21 turnovers for the game, and after cutting the lead down to one, a pair of Somerset turnovers did in Jeff Cothron’s club.
One Somerset miscue led to a Burton three-pointer, and on the next trip downcourt, a Somerset turnover led to a driving layup by Ross.
Another Ross basket extended the advantage out even more, and when all was said and done, PC eventually took the lead out to double figures over Somerset.
The straw that broke Somerset’s back came with just under two seconds remaining in the first half, when Kody Johnson was fouled on a shot attempt.
The PC senior calmly sank both free throws, giving his club a very comfortable, 39-26 lead over Somerset at the halftime break.
The Jumpers at that juncture were in big-time trouble and PC was playing like the team that was ranked number one in the 12th Region way back in the preseason.
“They (Pulaski County) had us on our heels from the get-go,” lamented Cothron, after his club fell to 18-9 with the loss.
“They were just the more aggressive team tonight, and we let them be,” continued the Somerset coach. “This game was almost the exact opposite of last week’s game with PC, when we had them on their heels almost from the get-go. We would come back and make a run, and then PC would come right back, and the best way I can put it, we were just back on our heels all night long tonight.”
Already leading Somerset by the baker’s dozen at the end of the first half, PC iced the game and a fourth straight district title in the third quarter, outscoring Somerset by a 21-10 margin in the frame.
The Maroons biggest lead of the night came in the third period, when PC went up by 26 points, thanks to a pair of Burton free throws that made the score 60-34 in favor of Gover’s club late in the third period.
Despite the impressive win, and despite a fourth consecutive district title, Gover and company elected not to cut the nets down after the game, and for a very good reason according to the PC coach.
“We’ve had one goal all year, and our goal is to win the region,” stated Gover.
“This is a great win, and it’s great to win the district four years in a row — that’s awesome,” added the PC coach. “But, we know what our goal is, and our goal is to win the regional championship. Those are the nets that we’re really hungry for. Now, we get that chance next week, which is what we wanted.”
Trailing PC by a 60-36 margin through three quarters of play, Somerset finally began to hit some shots in the final frame, scoring 27 points in the fourth quarter, but by that juncture, this issue had long since been decided.
Still, Somerset qualified for the 12th Regional Tournament for the first time in five years thanks to Wednesday’s victory over Rockcastle County in the opening round of the tournament.
Coach Cothron says it’s now time for his team to shake off the loss to PC and get ready for what his club was shooting for way back on October 15th of last year — a 12th Regional Tournament title.
“I told our guys after the game that we tend to play well for three or four games, and then we seem to have a bad game — that just happens sometimes,” pointed out the Somerset coach.
“We’ve got to shake this one off and get ready for the region,” Cothron added. “When PC is shooting the ball like they did tonight, with all of those guys shooting it the way they were, they’re a very hard team to guard. We talked about the biggest part of the year that there were five or six teams that had a legitimate shot to win the region, so we’re just glad and fortunate to be one of those that’s considered to be a contender. We’ll have to put together three quality games, but any team that wins it will have to do the same thing.”
Pulaski County placed four players in double figures in Friday night’s win, led by Burton’s 19 points and the 17 points from Sean Ross.
Taylor Gover added 14 points, and Kody Johnson tallied 12 points.
Somerset meanwhile was led by Ryan Dishman who scored a game-high 22 points, with 18 of those coming in the second half.
Tyson Williams also hit for twin figures, scoring 16 points for the Jumpers in the loss.
Both PC and Somerset advance to next week’s 12th Regional Tournament, which gets underway on Monday night at Lincoln County High School.
Look for the complete tourney bracket with game times and team won-loss records in Sunday’s edition of The Commonwealth Journal.
Members of the 47th All-District Regular Season Team were: Taylor Gover, Kody Johnson, and Tyler Goins from Pulaski County, Tyson Williams, Ryan Weddle, and Ryan Dishman from Somerset, Micah Smith and Taylor Leigh of Casey County, with Josh Mason and Sam Pensol rounding out the squad from Rockcastle County.
PC — 18 21 21 23 — 83
SHS — 11 15 10 27 — 63
PULASKI CO. — Burton 19, Ross 17, Gover 14, Johnson 12, Hall 9, Helton 4, Lorman 3, Goins 3, Laign 2.
SOMERSET — R. Dishman 22, Williams 16, T. Dishman 8, Weddle 6, Cheuvront 5, Gordon 4, Farris 2.