By LARRY HYPES
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
TAZEWELL, Va. —
Point and counterpoint.
A terrific trio combined for 49 of Graham’s 69 as the G-Men rode a late first-half surge and maintained command en route to a 69-59 season opening win over a battling band of Bulldogs Friday.
Graham (1-0) outscored Tazewell 12-3 in a four-minute second-quarter burst to break open a tight game and the Dogs (1-1) were not able to overcome the deficit.
Periodic stints of full-court pressure from GHS, especially near the end of quarters, seemed to keep Tazewell off balance just enough to prevent a serious challenge in the second half.
Both teams started slowly, finishing the opening stanza tied at 13-all as Tony Hood for the G-Men and Tazewell’s Isyah Hagy battled from the perimeter. Colby Hill was a defensive standout to help Graham contain Tazewell.
Nick Morgan drilled a pair of second-period treys for GHS, then Hill and Hood combined from downtown to move the G-Men to a 31-21 advantage. Juwan Jordan, however, made a couple of hot shots and Malik Davis nailed a buzzer-beater for the Bulldogs as THS closed to within 37-31 at the break.
Foul trouble hampered both teams as the third period continued, with Tanner Catron saddled with four and Graham’s Zach Proffitt down with three. Proffitt battled back, however, and made some dandy defensive plays for the G-Men in the late stages.
Combined with steady floor play from Hood and Roman Workman, the overall GHS pressure proved decisive.
Tazewell made a strong third-period run to nearly take back the lead in spite of that. Colin Hancock fired in a 3-pointer, Nick Elkins added a pair of freebies, and Hagy popped in a trey to cut the margin to a single point, 45-44, with 2:25 to go.
Hood then regained the momentum for Graham with a pair of crucial free throws and the G-Men held the tempo thereafter.
“I really needed to step up in the second half,” said Proffitt. “I just wanted my presence to be felt in the paint to help us keep the lead.”
Hagy sparkled for Tazewell, and took game scoring honors with 22 points.
“I was working hard against Tony (Hood),” said Hagy. “I was trying to keep down his scoring, and do better than that, hoping it would be enough to make the difference for us. We had too many turnovers — didn’t execute our offense like we should have.”
“We’ll get better and beat them (Graham) next time out.”
Hood nailed 20 to top the G-Men, along with 16 for Hill and 13 by Thomas Clarke.
Hood said, “We played pretty well at times offensively, but our defense needs work. We have to lock down, box out, and do a better job. Its’ defense that wins championships, and we have to get to work on that.”
Free throw shooting made the difference as the G-Men hit 23 of 35 at the stripe, while Tazewell made seven of only 12 charity chances.
“One of our primary goals is to score 20 points or more in every quarter,” said GHS coach Glynn Carlock. “We only did that once, in the second quarter (24), but came close in the fourth (18). It’s early, and we’ll probably be a little more critical of our guys’ play until we develop that consistency. I was pleased with Tony’s (Hood) offense and both Zach (Proffitt) and Colby (Hill) worked hard on defense. Colby also had a good offensive game. Give Tazewell a lot of credit. Coach (William) Lester got just about everything out of his team they could offer tonight. He did an excellent job and Tazewell has a good club.”
Juwan Jordan scored 13 points, joining Hagy in double digits for the Bulldogs. Hancock added eight.
“I’m proud of the boys’ effort,” said Lester, making his home coaching debut for the Bulldogs after notching a win in his first game Tuesday at Marion. “We have to work on offensive execution. Defensively, we did about all we could tonight. Graham is very quick. We’ll get better.”
Each team hit eight 3-point shots.
Graham hosts Abingdon Tuesday, while Tazewell is back in action tonight at home against the Oak Hill Academy (Red Team), with the JV game starting at 5 p.m.
At Tazewell Middle School
Hood 20, Morgan 9, Workman 9, Clarke 13, Hill 16, Proffitt 4.
Elkins 2, Davis 6, Catron 4, Hancock 8, Mountain 2, Hagy 22, McPeak 2.
Graham.......................13 24 14 18 — 69
Tazewell......................13 18 14 14 — 59
Three-point goals — GHS 8 (Hood 3, Morgan 2, Clarke 2, Hill 1). THS 8 (Catron 1, Hancock 2, Jordan 3, Hagy 2).