By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
BLUEFIELD, Va. —
Two wins in two nights by a combined 57 points.
The G-Girls will take it.
Jia Coppola, one of three freshmen who start for Graham, scored 13 points, including 11 in the first half, leading the G-Girls to a 56-40 win over Bland County on Friday night at Graham Middle School.
Graham (6-5) won its second straight game, having defeating Narrows 77-36 on Thursday night.
“Especially after you had a big win last night so we will take two of them,” Graham head coach Tracy Raban said. “I don’t think we played very well, especially with how we played last night, but we may have had a little hangover from so much excitement last night.
“At any point in this time in the season you will take a victory and go on with it.”
Bland County (2-10) had narrowed an 11-point second quarter deficit to 25-17 with 1:06 on the clock but the G-Girls went on a 9-0 run to take a 34-17 lead into the break.
“I looked up and we were down eight points with two minutes left in the second quarter,” said Bland County head coach Jason Lambert, who drew a technical late in the period. “There were a couple of fouls that I thought we got and he didn’t call.
“I kind of threw my fit pretty much on how I disagreed with him and the next thing you know we go down 15 at half.”
It was the three Graham freshmen that combined for those nine points, led by a Coppola assist to Dejah Carter for a basket, a free throw on offensive putback by Carter, and Carter then stole a pass and fed Coppola for another two points. Coppola then swiped an inbounds pass and scored again.
Suddenly, with Kiser making the two technical free throws in the final seconds, the G-Girls had built the lead from eight to 17 in just over a minute.
Coppola (13 points), Kiser (10) and Carter (9) combined for 32 of Graham’s 56 points, and that duo had 23 of the G-Girls’ 34 in the opening half.
“What can you say, they are not freshmen anymore,” Raban said. “They will make some mental mistakes here and there, but I think they are growing up really quick and that is part of our success.
“It is always nice to have a different one each night for you.”
Bland County, which was led by Amber Eaton with 12 points and Kristen Dillow with nine, all on 3s, had no answers for the G-Girls after the break.
“Give Graham credit, I think our zone might have messed with them a little bit,” Lambert said. “Of course they played last night too, it looked like their legs may not have all been under them.
“Give Tracy credit, she thinked up some things and they came out and did what they had to do. I thought my girls played hard, we still don’t make the shots we should make, but Graham is a really good team,”
Sophomore Emaleigh Gallinger added seven points, and senior Ashley Rasnake contributed 10 off the bench, as the G-Girls were patient with the ball, and still led 48-25 going into the final period.
“I told the girls when you get a decent lead, at this point let’s move the ball around, take care of it, get us a good shot and not force up any silly thing,” Raban said.
Bland County continues to struggle with making shots. Only three players had has many as four points in the game, but Lambert was pleased with the effort shown by his Lady Bears.
“What I try to tell my girls is against good teams you have got to make the shots you have to make to be competitive, but don’t ever give up, rather it is basketball or life, you have got to give 110 percent,” Lambert said. “We will go from there, one day at a time, just keep getting better and at the end of the year you never know what might happen.”
Both teams have three games ahead next week, with Graham visiting Giles on Tuesday, followed by Mountain Empire District games against Fort Chiswell and Grayson County.
“We do have a big week ahead, it would be nice to get a big win on Tuesday,” Raban said. “Fort Chiswell is always a rival for us and Grayson County looks to the powerhouse around here.
“It would be nice to go in and get three more victories here in a row.”
Meanwhile, Lambert will out of town on business next week, but his Bears will play on, with games against Auburn, Galax and Fort Chiswell, with two of those on the road.
“I am going to be gone all week, I have to go for work so my wife and assistant coach is going to have to handle them next week,” said Lambert, with a smile. “It might be good for the girls to have somebody else yell at them.”
at Graham Middle School
BLAND COUNTY (2-10)
Malee Lambert 1 1-4 4, Amber Eaton 4 4-4 12, Tori Smith 0 0-0 0, Kristen Dillow 3 0-0 9, Caitlin Fanning 0 2-2 2, Lindsey Watters 0 1-3 1, Linsey Dean 3 0-0 6, Rachel Radford 1 0-0 2, Danielle Russo 1 0-0 2, Hayley Hadock 1 0-0 2, Lindsey Faulkner 0 0-0 0, Lakyn Patterson 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 8-13 40.
Lexi Kiser 1 7-9 10, Emaleigh Gallinger 2 3-4 7, Bethany Evans 0 1-2 1, Jia Coppola 5 3-5 13, Dejah Carter 3 3-6 9, Alysia Leung 1 0-0 2, Casey Spencer 1 0-0 2, Ashley Rasnake 4 2-4 10, Bailee Poe 1 0-0 2, McKenzie Roach 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 19-30 56.
Bland County.......................8 9 8 15 — 40
Graham..............................12 22 14 8 — 56
3-point g oals: BC 4 (Dillow 3, Lambert 1); GR 1 (Kiser 1). Total fouls: BC 16; GR 18. Fouled out: none. Technicals: BC Jason Lambert. JV—BC 25-24.