Odd as it might seem, both coaches -- Rick Treadway of Pulaski Academy and Allison Handy of Stuttgart -- walked off the Alex Hugg Gymnasium basketball court with a certain level of satisfaction Tuesday night at Pulaski Academy.
Pulaski Academy, the fourth-ranked team in its classification, defeated Stuttgart 69-59 to improve to 19-2 overall and 11-0 in Class 4A-5.
But it was more than just a victory for Treadway, who won his 701st game as a girls coach in the state.
"This game tonight will benefit us more than any other game we've had in the conference," he said after Stuttgart cut an 18-point second-half deficit to eight in the final two minutes. "No. 1, we had to battle. We had to keep our starters in until the end of the game."
Handy said her team (11-11, 5-7) needed a performance like this for the stretch run in the conference. The Ricebirds need to win at least two or three more games to finish in the top four of the conference to qualify for regionals later in the month.
"Huge boost," Handy said. "We needed this."
Don't get Handy wrong: The Ricebirds came to win, but she said Stuttgart can move forward based on how it played over the final 15 minutes.
Stuttgart, which never led, trailed 37-22 at halftime and 40-22 early in the third quarter when Handy called a timeout to regroup.
"You've got to keep your heads up, you're still in this ballgame," she said. "It's not all done. Go in and crash the boards every single time. Take care of the basketball and don't force any passes. We were staring down people. You just can't do that. At that point, you've got to take care of the basketball."
The Ricebirds, who committed 15 first-half turnovers, had just five in the second half.
It was 54-42 by the time the third quarter ended. With Ketiya Harrison (21 points) leading the way, Stuttgart cut the lead to 65-57 at the 1:58 mark.
Treadway said he wanted the Lady Bruins to take matters into their own hands with regard to working time off the clock.
"We've had so many games we've won by large margins, a game like that, it just feels weird," Treadway said.
Pulaski Academy kept hoisting up shots even as its lead started to dwindle, and the Lady Bruins were 6 of 16 from the free-throw line, nowhere close to a pregame goal of shooting 70%.
"I don't think we shot 7%," Treadway said.
Handy said her team's comeback was nearly as important as pulling out a victory.
"Playing a team that's 10-0 and is as good as they are, you better believe there is an intimidation factor," she said. "You could. That was not the case. Our kids came out. It was a 10-point ballgame at the end."
Taylor Hernandez led the Lady Bruins with 22 points. Isis Woods, Riley Smith and Jazmene McMillan each had 12.
Treadway said February is no time to go on cruise control.
"We've got a chance to be 16-0 in conference," he said. "That's tough to do. Just because of nights like that. Anything can happen. You've got to keep your pencil sharpened."
PULASKI ACADEMY 77, STUTTGART 49
EJ Anderson scored 21 points, including four of the Bruins' 14 three-pointers, as Pulaski Academy (14-4, 9-2 in 4A-5) blew out Stuttgart (2-16, 1-10).
Patrick Engskov scored 14, with four three-pointers, and Kaylan Makan added 11, with 3 three-pointers, for the Bruins.
Pulaski Academy led 29-16 after one quarter, 49-30 at halftime and 75-38 after three quarters.
Sports on 02/05/2020
Print Headline: PA girls coach happy team was tested