Pulaski team pushes past injuries and illness
One great thing about unhappy high school basketball season openers: there are at least 20 more upcoming chances to get it right.
Pulaski County got whacked by 39 at home by real deal Patrick Henry earlier this week.
“We’ll be better in January and February than we are right now,” said guard Zack Akers. “That’s what we’re focused on right now.”
Speaking of focus, Akers was one of two seniors along with Tyler Dotson in a nine-man rotation that included four sophomores and a freshman on hand to tangle with Timesland’s deservedly top-ranked team.
Not knocking 10th-graders or anything, but you know how they can be occasionally when it comes to focusing on educational issues. Which is also not to cast aspersions on young Mr. Isaac Poe, the one ninth-grader summoned from the junior varsity as an emergency callup for manpower purposes.
Manpower was in short supply, not to mention boypower. Mark Hanks’ Cougars were depleted by dreadful illness (Lonnie Mattox was flu-infested and feverish) and the football-battered (Tyler Ervine still isn’t entirely in one piece).
Nobody in Pulaski County ever would knock football for any reason, but it must be pointed out that the sport of hard knocks often has a body count that extends into the following athletic season.
“We’ve got people coming back from football and nobody’s really in shape yet,” said Akers, who had to battle back from a broken leg just to get back to the football field after missing the first seven games of that campaign. Akers wasn’t complaining, mind you. Neither was he entirely in roundball shape, either.
“None of the football players have their legs yet,” Hanks said.
That group also includes Marcus Johnston, the quarterback, and Dotson, who can play quarterback as well as other positions, basketball, too. Those two were a combined 4-for-4 from the foul line and seven points. Dotson had one of the two treys Pulaski County sank. Shaky legs, sophomores, and soaring thermometer mercury for Pulaski County partially combined to obscure one important fact. PH is good. The Patriots had only two football players and Cortez Ogden and Isaiah Tucker combined for two points, both by Ogden. For the most part, that Patriots crowd was basketball ready, to say the least.
“They play basketball year-round,” said football-soccer-basketball man Akers.
All that said and fully aware of the final point spread, there are things to like about Pulaski County. They have good all-around athletes who can run up and down the floor and play defense. They have some nice young players, too. Sophomore Marcus Burks, who looks every bit his age right down to the shiny braces on his teeth, led the Cougars in scoring with 13 points, eight in the second half after pausing to have a turned ankle tended to. Burks’ heart’s in the right place, for sure.
“We’ve got to get back on defense,” he said.
Take that back those mean things said earlier about sending sophomores to school. That Burks is a quick study.
He wouldn’t be playing for Hanks if he weren’t.
By Ray Cox
The Roanoke Times | 381-1672
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