By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
BLAND, Va. —
Bland County was missing its lead guard. Graham had all three of theirs, and it showed.
The Graham guard trio of Tony Hood, Spencer Sheets and Colby Hill combined for 41 points, and the G-Men improved to 3-0 in the Mountain Empire District with an impressive 60-39 win over the short-handed Bears on Friday night in a packed and steamy Bland High School gymnasium.
Bland County (9-5 ,1-2), which lost for fourth time in the last six games, had to play without leading scorer Asher Dillow, who is day-to-day with an ankle injury suffered at Tazewell after Christmas. Darryl Clark, the Bears' other 1,000 point scorer, has recently recovered from the flu and was held to four points.
"We are kind of going through a crisis right now, but I am really proud of my kids," said Bland County head coach Rich Hankins, whose Bears entered the game averaging 69.8 points a game.
The same goes for Graham head coach Glynn Carlock, whose G-Men won their fifth straight game, outscoring the Bears 32-13 in the second half, including 18-4 in the third period.
"They did a nice job there at the beginning of the game keeping it back and forth, and I thought we came out the gates in the second half and tried to get out and run the floor a little better and get some layups off of our defense," Carlock said. "We tried to pick up the defensive pressure a little bit and it allowed us to get it extended out and hit some shots."
Hood led Graham with 18 points, while Sheets added 13 and Hill had 10. Hood and Sheets each had three 3s, and Hill was 10 for 10 from the free throw line. Freshman Roman Workman added seven points for the G-Men.
"Spencer played big for us tonight," Carlock said. "Tony is pretty solid in all phases of the game right now, so is Colby and Spencer. We're getting good play from Roman off the bench and our posts are working hard."
With Dillow sitting on the bench in street clothes, the Bears hung with Graham from the start, with the score tied at 12-12 after one quarter, and the G-Men took a 28-25 lead into the break.
Chase Hankins, who is closing in on 1,000 career points of his own, finished with 20 points, including 14 at the break, but no one else on the team had more than four.
"Our kids played with a lot of heart that first 16 minutes and we knew it was going to be an uphill battle," Rich Hankins said. "I was extremely pleased with my kids in the first half, and then Graham picked the intensity up in the third quarter and we went ice cold.
"Once Graham rebounded they were off to the races and got some easy buckets in transition in the third quarter which blew the thing open."
Graham's trio of guards ran the floor and combined for 12 third quarter points, including eight by Sheets, with two 3s in the final seconds to give the G-Men a 46-29 lead heading into the final period.
"Tony Hood shot the basketball really well in the first half with a little bit of extra range and I think that gave them some confidence there early," Hankins said. "Colby and Spencer got on track in the second half and that was the difference."
The MED contest was played in front of a packed house, with fans from Bland County and Graham in attendance in a toasty gymnasium full of noise.
"This kind of atmosphere right here is what basketball is all about," Carlock said. "It is a packed house, it is like basketball ought to be played. People in this community should be commended, they fill this place up.
"You know what I am proud up, our fans filled it half way tonight too. They traveled over here and I am really thankful to have the fans we have and our guys are proud of them too that they made the trip over to support us."
While Bland County will visit Galax on Tuesday, Graham will visit Fort Chiswell on the same night, part of a three-game week that also includes Bluefield and Grayson County.
"We have a big, big week next week," Carlock said. "This is what you practice for, this part of the season. We are right smack in the middle of it and we hope our guys will perform well."
—Contact Brian Woodson
at Bland High School
GRAHAM (10-3, 3-0)
Tony Hood 7 1-2 18, Spencer Sheets 4 2-3 13, Marshall Hawley 0 0-0 0, Colby Hill 2 6-10 10, Zach Proffitt 2 0-0 4, Roman Workman 3 1-2 7, Samuel Stowers 1 0-0 2, Tim Clarke 1 0-0 2, Josh Altizer 2 0-0 4, Jacob Simpson 0 0-0 0, Jonathan Figueroa 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 10-17 60.
BLAND COUNTY (9-5, 1-2)
Darryl Clark 2 0-0 4, Kalub Lambert 1 0-0 3, John Miller 0 0-0 0, Chase Hankins 5 10-10 20, Jonathan Goins 2 0-1 4, Jonah Miller 1 0-0 2, Tyler White 0 1-2 1, Jonathan Faulkner 1 0-0 2, Andrew Pauley 0 1-2 1, Derek French 0 1-2 1. Totals 12 13-17 39.
Graham.............12 16 18 14 — 60
Bland County.....12 13 4 9 — 38
3-point goals: GR 6 (Hood 3, Sheets 3); BC 2 (Lambert 1). Total fouls: GR 17, BC 14. Fouled out none. Technicals: none. JV-BC 34-31.