Across the board, girl’s coaches inside the 47th District have maintained all season long that it’s going to be a wide open race.
That was never more evident than last night at The Briar Patch.
Somerset and Pulaski County met up for the first time this season on Tuesday night, and played another instant classic in this rivalry.
The Lady Maroons — trailing Somerset 72-69 with just :12 remaining in the contest — got four clutch free throws over that span from Brittany Warren, who scored a game-high 26 points, and it was PC roaring back to squeak out a win over the Lady Jumpers, 73-72 in an absolute thriller.
Coming into last night’s pivotal contest inside the rugged 47th District, both PC head coach Brian Miller and Somerset head coach Erin Walker pointed out they each thought the game was a must-win for their respective clubs.
And, they each played like it.
This one was a game of runs, spurts, and clutch plays from both sides.
Yet, when all was said and done, it was PC that improved to 9-6 on the season and to 2-1 in district play, with a very hard-fought, 73-72 victory over Somerset.
Just how wild was last night’s affair?
Somerset hit its first four shots of the night, racing out to a 10-0 lead over PC just two minutes into the contest, forcing Miller to call a timeout with exactly 6:00 remaining in the first quarter.
Coming out of that timeout, all PC did was score 32 points over the remainder of the opening frame, erasing that early 10-0 deficit to lead by double figures after one stanza over the Lady Jumpers by a 32-21 margin.
“Early on we made shots and they (Somerset) made shots,” stated Miller after the contest.
“I’d say both teams in the first quarter shot 80 percent from the floor,” continued the PC coach. “They made their first five or six shots and we couldn’t make anything early on, and then we got hot after we got down by that 10-0 score.”
Indeed, Somerset had PC on the ropes early, but it was the three-ball that got the Lady Maroons back into the contest.
Brittany Warren, Haley Warren, and Taylor Brock each hit two, three-point baskets in the first quarter, as the two clubs combined for a whopping, 53 points in the game’s first eight minutes of play.
“There were almost 60 points scored in the first quarter tonight, so yes, it was a wild first quarter there at the beginning of the game,” stated Walker.
“It was just crazy,” added the Lady Jumper coach. “Our team was ready to play today, because this was a rival game. They were ready to come out, and they had a point to prove at the start. We told them before the game that this was going to be a game of runs, and we made our run at the beginning. They made their run at the end of the quarter and scored something like eight points in the final few seconds — it was just one of those kind of games.”
After erasing that 10-0 deficit from the outset, Pulaski never trailed again in this affair until early in the second half.
Yet, despite leading Somerset by that 32-21 margin after one period of play, the Lady Maroons only were able to take a 45-44 lead into the intermission.
And, it was at the free throw line where Somerset got its work done and stayed within striking distance of Pulaski County.
While PC was just 5 of 11 from the charity stripe in the opening half of play, the Lady Jumpers cashed in on 13 of 17 free throw attempts.
The third quarter saw three lead changes, but thanks to a mini-run by Somerset to close out the third stanza, the Lady Jumpers took a 58-52 lead into the fourth quarter of play.
After a Brynlee Bigelow basket extended the margin to 60-52 early in the final period, it was PC’s turn for a run.
The Lady Maroons reeled off eight consecutive points, and when Haley Warren drained a three-point bucket, PC had knotted this one back up at 60-60 — the first of three ties in the final period.
But, there would be much, much more heroics to come from the Warren twins.
Another trey by Haley Warren later in the frame tied the game once again at 65-65, and when Brittany Warren hit a pair of free throws with just :51 left in the game, Pulaski had its first lead of the fourth quarter over Somerset, leading the Lady Jumpers 69-67.
Yet, Somerset would fight back this time.
Bethany Edwards — who led the Lady Jumpers with 23 points — drilled a trey of her own coming out of a timeout, and with :31 remaining, it was Somerset clinging to a 70-69 lead.
After a PC turnover, Edwards drilled a pair of free throws, giving the Lady Jumpers a 72-69 advantage with just :12 remaining in the contest.
However, the Lady Maroons were not going to go quietly on this night.
Brittany Warren was fouled with :08 left, and despite just making 10 of 19 from the free throw line for the game, the senior point guard calmly went to the stripe and made both her free throws, trimming the deficit to 72-71.
After Somerset threw the ball out of bounds against the Pulaski County full court press after those two free throws, Brittany Warren was fouled once again, and once again made both her free throws, giving PC a 73-72 lead.
Somerset then inbounded the ball, and sophomore Maranda Mills — who came back in this game after an illness that saw her miss a couple of contests — drove to the hole and her layup just before the buzzer sounded went half way down the cylinder, yet came back out, giving PC a thrilling, one-point victory.
It was just one of those kind of night’s.
“We’re fortunate that we won this game,” stated Miller.
“Our kids continued to play hard, and we could have quit tonight,” added the PC coach. “Down three with 12 seconds left, we could have quit. Brittany (Warren) made her last six free throws down the stretch which were huge, and that’s just a sign of a great player and a senior leader stepping up and getting it done at crunch time. Still, we’ve got to do a better job of hitting our free throws. If we hit free throws tonight, we would not have been in that situation at the end of the game.”
For the game, PC managed to connect on only 14 of 27 attempts from the charity stripe, while Somerset made 28 of 37 free throw attempts.
With the loss, the Lady Jumpers fell to 7-10 overall on the season and to 1-4 inside district play, but Walker tried to look at the positives coming out of a game that was a tough, tough loss to take for her team.
“This was a great game, and you can’t ask for a better rivalry game, especially one that came down to the very last second like it did tonight,” pointed out the Somerset coach.
“It was back and forth —we would go up and they would come back, and then we’d go up and they would come back,” Walker added. “This was a high scoring game, and it was probably one of the best games to watch this year, as far as girl’s high school basketball goes. We’re getting better, and we’ll use this as a learning experience.”
Both PC and Somerset will return to action on Friday night at home, taking part in girl-boy doubleheaders.
The Lady Maroons will host arch-rival Southwestern at The PC Gym at 6 p.m. as part of a twinbill, while the Lady Jumpers will also tip off at 6 p.m. at The Briar Patch against Cumberland County.
PC — 32 13 7 21 — 73
SHS — 21 23 14 14 — 72
PULASKI CO. — B. Warren 26, H. Warren 19, Brock 10, Ingram 7, Privett 4, Correll 3, Jenkins 2, Kick 2.
SOMERSET — Edwards 23, Scott 18, Brooks 13, Ford 11, Mills 4, Bigelow 2, Wallace 1.