BLUEFIELD, Va. —
Tazewell guard Tanner Catron made a short first quarter jumper and turned to the very boisterous Graham cheering section, put his finger to his mouth as if they tell them to quiet down.
It didn’t work.
“We have to learn to play in this kind of environment,” Tazewell head coach William Lester said. “It is a hostile environment and they need to feed off of it and they need to learn to play in this kind of thing. It is fun.”
It was more fun for Graham (2-1), which made it 2-for-2 over Tazewell in a matter of seven days, using a 22-1 run following Catron’s gesture to propel the G-Men to a 67-44 win over the Bulldogs at a very loud Graham Middle School on Friday night.
That came one week after Graham defeated the Bulldogs 69-59 in Tazewell.
“I am just proud of our effort,” Graham head coach Glynn Carlock Jr. said. “We went down to Tazewell and I thought we played sloppy at times being our first game of the year. Tonight, I thought we got after them pretty good and we were able to disrupt what they are trying to do.”
Tazewell (2-3) overcame an early 8-2 deficit to take a 13-10 lead on the basket by Catron, but the Bulldogs wouldn’t score again until Isyah Hagy made a free throw with 5:07 left in the second quarter.
“We didn’t execute as well,” said Lester, the first-year coach on the difference in a week between the two games. “The execution wasn’t there.”
By then Graham had gotten on a roll, led by six points from Hood, with the margin eventually growing to 32-14 before Colin Hancock finally made Tazewell’s first field goal in more than 12 minutes with 25 seconds in the opening half, but the G-Men still led 32-17 at the break.
“It seems like everything they threw up was going in,” Lester said. “We were contesting them. You have to give them credit. We would contest a shot. We would have a guy come up behind him and it was still falling, especially 23 (Colby Hill) when he got hot there in that second quarter.
“The boys played hard, they gave all they could, it was just one of those nights.”
Hill led a balanced Graham attack with a double-double, 13 points and 10 rebounds, along with three assists, while Tony Hood contributed 11 points, six boards and two assists. Roman Workman also added 13 points and two assists, and Thomas Clarke, a former home-schooled student playing his first year of organized basketball, added 10 points, eight boards and four blocked shots.
“Our constants of Tony and Colby are there, but I was proud of the efforts tonight from Roman Workman and Thomas Clarke,” said Carlock, who also praised the performance of freshman Ben Meade, who had six points, and Tanner Miller, who spelled senior center Zach Proffitt, and had four rebounds. “They came in and gave us double digits and obviously Colby had a double-double, which is to be expected.”
Graham continued to pour it on in the third period, with Workman and Clarke not only combining for 11 points, but also demonstrating enthusiasm by feeding of the frenzied crowd with fist pumps, high fives and screams of joys.
“(Clarke) is very energetic, him, Roman and Ben Meade are our three energy guys that we have,” Carlock said. “Those guys bring the energy to the floor and we expect them to be good defenders for us.”
Tazewell, which was led by Juwan Jordan with 12 points, nine from Catron, eight by Hancock and seven from Malik Davis, was able to trim the margin to 11, at 47-36, on a basket and free throw by Jordan with 6:31 left in the game.
“We see plenty of potential in this team, two losses to Graham and one loss to Oak Hill (Red),” said Lester, whose Bulldogs will host Grundy on Monday. “You have to give them credit, Graham is a good team, they are going to go far.
“We have just got to work on it, build on it and we have just got to go.”
Graham didn’t panic, but went on their own 20-8 run to end the game to split a pair of games this week, having dropped a hard-fought 70-66 decision to Abingdon on Tuesday.
“We had one 20-point quarter, we won every quarter,” Carlock said. “The second period gave us a little bit of a cushion, 15-4, kind of the polar opposite of us from the other night with Abingdon.
“I thought we shared the ball very well tonight, we focused a lot of our efforts yesterday in practice actually running the offense more crisp and making our cuts and running hard through to get open.”
Graham had 42 rebounds in the game, and also made seven 3s, led by Clarke and freshman Nick Morgan with two apiece. That followed the effort against Abingdon when the G-Men made 10 from long range.
“I thought we did a nice job on our set plays tonight,” Carlock said. “We tried to exploit some things we felt we had. I thought we did a nice job of it, I really did, I was really proud of them.”
Morgan added eight points for Graham.
“I thought we played well both games this week,” Carlock said. “Someone had to lose that game on Tuesday with Abingdon and we are getting better. We are going to have to get better for the match-up coming here on Tuesday night.”
That would be a meeting with defending West Virginia Class AA state champion Bluefield, which defeated the G-Men twice last season, by 43 and 11 points, with the latter being at Graham.
“You are looking at a team coming in here that I would say is not only considered the best in the AA, but probably could be mentioned as probably the best team in West Virginia in any classification,” Carlock said. “They have only gotten deeper this year with some of the kids that have come up to help them.
“I feel like we have guys that are going to step up in this locker room and are going to try and give them a challenge on Tuesday night.”
at Graham Middle School
Malik Davis 3 1-2 7, Tanner Catron 4 0-0 9, Colin Hancock 3 1-2 8, Juwan Jordan 5 2-3 12, Isyah Hagy 2 1-3 5, Nick Elkins 0 1-2 1, Jesse Mountain 1 0-0 2, Ben Samaniago 0 0-0 0, Gee Turner 0 0-1 0, Drew Mullins 0 0-0 0, Clifford McPeak 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 6-12 44.
Tony Hood 4 2-2 11, Roman Workman 5 2-2 13, Thomas Clarke 4 0-0 10, Colby Hill 5 2-2 13, Zach Proffitt 2 0-0 4, Nick Morgan 3 0-0 8, Tanner Miller 1 0-0 2, Jacob Simpson 0 0-2 0, Ben Meade 2 2-2 6, Nick Shoemaker 0 0-2 0, Chris Jones 0 0-0 0. Totals 26 8-12 67.
Tazewell............................................13 4 13 14 — 44
Graham............................................17 15 15 20 — 67
3-point goals: TZ 2 (Hancock 1, Catron 1); GR 7 (Clarke 2, Morgan 2, Hood 1, Hill 1, Workman 1). Total fouls: TZ 14; GR 15. Fouled out: none. Technicals: none.