Pulaski County returns to state title game for first time since 1992

Cougars face Lake Taylor Thursday in Class 4 championship

DUBLIN, Va. – Pulaski County and Carroll County met in the Class 4 state semifinal Tuesday night in a rematch of the region title game, which Carroll County won. But the Cougars flipped the script when it mattered most, winning 63-58  to advance to the state championship game.

With their season on the line, Pulaski trailed 16-2 in the first quarter. But the Cougars didn't panic. They showed resiliency, and began to claw themselves out of the hole.

"They just battle and they don't quit. And that's the one thing that stands out about them to me. They just don't quit," said Pulaski County girls basketball coach Bradley Sutphin.

"We knew what we had to do to get back in the game, and we didn't want our season to end. So we just locked in and went play by play and did what we had to do," said junior Maddie Ratcliff.

The Cougars now turn their attention to the Class 4 state title game against Lake Taylor. Uncharted territory for a Cougars program that hasn't been to the championship game since the early 1990's. A different scenario for Lake Taylor though, who are no strangers to the big stage. They lost in the title game last season, and took home the trophy in 2014.

"They're here, so they're good. And they have sustained success, so that's what we're trying to get to as a program and we're embracing the challenge. We're excited about it. I think the girls are really excited about it. I know they were there last year and lost it so they're going to come with a different mindset to make sure they leave with the trophy. Like I said. We're just excited, 100% excited," said Sutphin.

The venue may be different, but the Cougars support system will remain the same.

"That's probably my favorite part about the whole thing is to see our community just come in and give us the utmost love and support and respect and that is one of the biggest things about it. And it's helped us, it's been a key to get as far as we have and we're thankful for our community," said Ratcliff.