The Wayne County Cardinals met 12th Region rival Pulaski County, last Tuesday night at PC Gym, in a matchup of two of the top teams in the region.  Wayne County entered with a 1-3 mark on the season and was coming off a disappointing 69-64 home loss to Southwestern, in their last outing, while the Maroons owned a 4-1 mark on the season and were coming off a 74-69 win over Harlan County, in the PRTC Classic.  The contest marked the 90th meeting all time between the two rivals with Wayne County owning a 46-43 series advantage, as Pulaski County has claimed the last four games in the rivalry, including an 83-78 overtime decision on December 11 of 2018, at the Rodney C. Woods Gymnasium.

    Pulaski County never trailed from the opening seconds of the contest 
and used the game high 21 points of Colton Fraley to pace four 
scorers in double digits, racing to an 80-59 win.  The 5-10 senior 
guard connected on 9 of 13 field goal attempts and 2 of 2 free 
throws, plus tallied a team best 4 assists with 3 rebounds.  Junior 
K.J. Combs added 19 points with 5 boards, aided by 9 of 15 shooting 
from the floor, as the hosts improved to 5-1 on the season.  The 
Maroons dominated the paint and made 28 of 38 2-point attempts, 
finishing a net-scorching 59 percent overall from the field.
    "Their physicality was a major concern going into the game and the 
first quarter we didn't respond at all and really came out white-
eyed, which we kind of expected in our opener at Warren Central, but 
not three weeks into the season.  They shot lay-ups all night and we 
didn't put up much resistance, which was very disappointing.  We have 
to find some guys that want to fight, scratch and claw to win 
basketball games, in this game maybe we had one and half guys ready 
to do that.  We have really struggled in practice with our lack of 
depth, but we must find some guys that want to battle," said Cards 
head coach Rodney Woods.
    Garrett Heath made 5 of 7 from the floor, which included 2 of 4 from 
3-point range to net 13 points, while 6-4 sophomore Caleb Sloan shot 
5 of 10 from the field and 2 of 3 from the free throw line to post 12 
points with a team best 6 rebounds.  Zach Travis tallied 9 points 
with 5 boards and a game high 5 steals, while Barek Williams and 
Dalton Bertram chipped in with 3 points each, as seven different 
Maroons etched the scoring margin.
    "We certainly took a step back in this game and didn't rebound or 
defend very well at all and once again we were very careless with the 
basketball.  We'll go back to work with four games this weekend in 
the McCreary Tournament and honestly we'll use those four games as 
practice to see if we can get some things worked out," said Woods.
    Wayne County, which dropped to 1-4, placed all five starters in 
double figures led by the 17 points and 3 rebounds of senior guard 
Reese Sexton.  Sexton finished 5 of 16 from the floor, which included 
3 of 9 from 3-point range and a perfect 4 of 4 from the free throw 
line.  Freshman Mason Burchett battled thru a sluggish opening half 
to finish with 11 points and game high 7 rebounds, finishing 3 of 4 
from the floor and 5 of 5 from the free throw line.
    Thomas Spencer connected on 4 of 12 field goal attempts to net 11 
points with 6 boards, while fellow senior Kameron Gehring totaled 10 
points with a game high 5 assists, plus grabbed 5 rebounds.  Bryson 
Tucker chipped in with 10 points, as Pulaski County enjoyed a 31-24 
rebound advantage.
    K.J. Combs led all players with 9 points in the opening minutes as 
the Maroons shot 9 of 16 from the floor and forced 6 turnovers to 
claim a 20-9 first quarter lead.
    Combs added 6 more points in the second stanza and the hosts 
connected on 7 of 10 floor attempts to use an 18-16 clip to enjoy a 
38-25 halftime edge.  The Cards shot 47 percent in the first half, 
but were plagued by 12 costly turnovers, led by the 6 points of 
Thomas Spencer.
    Reese Sexton and Garrett Heath traded baskets for 8 points each in 
the third frame as Wayne County used an 18-17 tilt to close the gap 
to 55-43, after three horns of play.
    Pulaski County heated back up for 11 of 16 shooting down the stretch 
and used the 8 points of Zach Travis to end the game with a 25-16 
surge to cruise to an 80-59 win.
    The Maroons finished 34 of 58 overall from the field for 59 percent 
and that included a 6 of 20 tally from 3-point range for 30 percent. 
The winners converted on 6 of 11 free throw attempts for 55 percent 
and totaled 15 assists with 4 steals against 8 turnovers.
    Wayne County countered with 19 of 44 shooting overall for 43 percent 
and that included an 8 of 18 clip from 3-point range for 44 percent. 
The squad connected on 13 of 17 free throws for 77 percent and 
tallied 9 assists with 3 steals against 17 turnovers.
    Up next for Wayne County was the Arby's/KFC Classic at McCreary 
Central and games with Williamsburg, Lynn Camp, Louisville Atherton 
and Garrard County.  Details on that event will appear in next week's edition of The Outlook.

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