Maroons fall to Patriots in regional title rematch

Jan. 2—There was a chill in the air both inside and outside of "The Big House" on Tuesday evening, as 2024 kicked off with a bang with Pulaski welcoming in the Lincoln County Patriots in a rematch of last season's classic 12th Region title game (which went the way of the Maroons 57-50). The Patriots came out shooting hot while the Maroons were making the gym feel that chill from outside with poor shooting throughout much of the first half of action.

Despite that, the ending of the game was a thriller just like last season, although Lincoln County came out on top this time around by a final score of 52-47. The Patriots won last year's regular season matchup though, and well, the results in the postseason speak for themselves.

Ethan Idlewine opened up the scoring for the Maroons with some free throws and scored the first four of the contest for Pulaski, with senior Seth Horton getting the first two points on the board for the Patriots. Horton gave the visitors the lead for the remainder of the game with two shots from deep and along with a two from sophomore Sawyer Robbins, Lincoln suddenly shot out to a 10-4 lead after eight straight points.

Baskets from the trio of Will Blankenship, Zak Anderson and Jalen Wooldridge kept the Maroons close near the end of the first quarter, as they trailed by just two points. It was the Horton twins, the senior duo of Seth and Sawyer, that kept Lincoln on top after the first eight minutes. Seth scored 10 points in the period, matching the entire output of the Pulaski offense, while Sawyer drained a three-pointer shortly before the buzzer that made the score 15-10 in favor of the Patriots.

Lincoln County increased that lead to eight shortly after the start of the second quarter following five points from senior Blade Nuckols that made the score 20-12. Pulaski did not back down and after baskets from Anderson and Blankenship, a three-pointer drained by Blankenship made the score 22-19 with just a little bit of time left before the break. Once again though, the Patriots made a run, with freshman Cash Baird and Robbins adding made two-pointers that gave Lincoln a 26-19 advantage heading into half.

The game was going by super quick heading into the second half, as only a few team fouls had been called despite quite a physical game developing on the court. Pulaski was the first team to score in the third off an offensive put-back from Gavin Cook. Early on, the teams were trading buckets despite the Maroons not being in an advantageous position to do so. After a three was drained by Baird, the Patriots had a 31-23 lead in the ball game.

Another battle back from the Maroons was in store however, as a made basket from Blankenship as well as another four straight from Idlewine brought that lead down to just 33-29. Just as soon as that happened though, another run with both Nuckols and Baird scoring put the Lincoln County lead right back to seven after three periods of action at 39-32.

Kade Hargis scored to begin the fourth quarter, although after a three from Robbins and another made shot from Seth Horton, the Patriots increased their lead to double digits at 44-34. With only about five minutes left in the game, things began to feel hopeless for the Maroons, but another run awaited fans.

An 11-3 run, featuring two made shots from deep from Wooldridge, by the home team cut their deficit to just two points at 47-45 heading into the final moments of the evening's contest. It looked like momentum was finally shifting in favor of the Maroons but alas, it was not meant to be as more poor shot selection doomed Pulaski. Late free throws from Seth Horton, Nuckols and Robbins sealed the deal for Lincoln County as they survived the road test at "The Big House" by a final score of 52-47.

The Maroons were led by Blankenship's game-high 18 points, while both Idlewine and Wooldridge each chipped in eight points. Other scorers included Anderson with seven, Hargis with four and Cook with two. Lincoln County was led by Seth Horton's 15 points.

Pulaski falls to 9-5 for the season and will be back in action on the road on Friday as they travel to take on the Rockcastle County Rockets at 7:30 p.m.

Jacob Pratt is the Sports Editor of the Commonwealth Journal and can be reached at