First half costs Garrard in regional loss to Pulaski

March 09, 2004|JILL ERWIN

LONDON - One coach couldn't have been more thrilled with his team's first half, the other couldn't have been more perplexed.

Pulaski County coach David Fraley loved everything his team did in Monday's first half against Garrard County in the first round of the 12th Region Tournament at South Laurel. But after 17 points and 15 turnovers in 16 minutes of play, Garrard coach Cecil Combs was searching for answers.

The Golden Lions came up with some, but it was too little too late as Pulaski rode a nearly-spotless first half to a 78-50 win over Garrard.

Pulaski (17-12) will play in the semifinals Friday night against Wayne County, a 47-45 overtime winner over Boyle County in Monday's first game..


Garrard (12-15) drew within one point at 6-5 on a basket by Spencer Crutchfield with 2:56 to play in the first quarter, but the Maroons hit four 3-pointers in its next five baskets and went on a 32-7 run capped by a basket by Jeremiah Purcell. That run put Pulaski up 38-12 and was the biggest part of a first half that saw the Maroons hit 19 of 36 shots (52.7 percent) and grab 21 rebounds.

"It's as well as we've played this year," Fraley said. "I thought that in the first half, we didn't make any mistakes. We threw it in the right places and our defense was really good.

"We have a great deal of respect for Garrard County. But our intention was to be the aggressor and to defend them. I thought our first half was just spectacular."

Combs was less than enthused with his team's play in the first half. He said he was clueless as to where it all went wrong.

The Lions just couldn't hold onto the ball, turning it over five times in the first 3:17 and 15 times in the first half.

"When you run a transition game like we do, you're going to have some turnovers, but we turned it over in the halfcourt a lot. too," Combs said. "We got down there and just threw the ball away. I don't know if we were just pumped too much or if we were a little bit intimidated."

Pulaski had a size advantage

Pulaski took advantage of its size inside and its outside shooting in that first half. Brandon Cross, a 6-4 senior forward, had 14 points and five rebounds in the first half, while 6-2 junior Purcell had 15 points (including three 3-pointers) and five rebounds.

Cross was able to score on several putbacks, and Combs said Garrard's lack of size and inability to block out hurt the Lions.

"Once we went man (defense), they found their weapon and went to him, and we don't have any answer for Cross," Combs said. "He's too big and strong and he knows how to use his body and how to get in position.

"We just didn't do a good job blocking out. We missed several block-out assignments from the wing side where we just didn't rotate. We've got guys standing away from the ball that just basically did nothing to block their guy out, and that's where they came from."

The second half was a different story. The Lions grabbed 16 rebounds in the second half after snagging just 11 in the first half. Garrard took just 18 shots in the first half due to turnovers, but made 12 baskets in the second on 28 attempts (42.8 percent).

The biggest change came not in how many shots Garrard took, but in where those shots came from. Instead of putting up jump shots from the wing, the Lions were driving the lane and trying to get high-percentage shots.

"Our kids have never been kids to lay down and quit," Combs said. "I just asked them to start taking the ball to the hole. We settled for a lot of stuff in the first half, jump shots that we probably shouldn't have taken. I asked them at halftime to take the ball inside."

Garrard outscored Pulaski 33-31 in the second half, but the first-half deficit was too much to overcome. Crutchfield closed out his junior year with a big game, scoring 24 of Garrard's 50 points.

The Lions finished the game 18 of 46 from the field for 39.1 percent while Pulaski hit 31 of 64 shots for 48.4 percent.

"Some good things happened," Combs said. "If we could erase the second quarter, we'd probably make a better game out of it. But they're a nice strong team. If they can shoot the ball like that and get that kind of game out of Cross, they're hard to play against."

PULASKI (17-12) - Brandon Cross 25, Cole Draughn 7, Tony Meeks 6, Jeremiah Purcell 21, Mark Adkins 12, Ross Deaton 3, Nathan Smith 2, Nicholas Forbes 2.

GARRARD (12-15) - Spencer Crutchfield 24, Spencer Toler 2, Jake Cool 4, Brandon Sebastian 5, Sean Paul Leavell 4, Dan Leavell 4, Zach Doan 3, Kent Johnson 2, Anthony Henderson 2.

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