By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
BLUEFIELD, Va. —
The Graham G-Men (15-6) would like to end their regular season tonight on a six-game winning streak. The last team to beat them, the Giles Spartans (11-6), have other ideas.
It’s likely to be a playoff-like atmosphere when the two teams clash at Graham Middle School. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
Glynn Carlock Jr., coach of the G-Men, expects “an extremely tough matchup.”
Giles defeated Graham 69-61 on Jan. 27 in Pearisburg, limiting the G-Men to 11 points in the first half. John Shelor amassed 32 points for the Spartans in that game. Only five Graham players scored, but four of them reached double figures, led by Colby Hill with 20 points.
Carlock said immediately after Saturday’s 77-62 win over Grayson County, “Giles is one of the top 10 teams right now in Double-A. Hey, we get ’em in our house this time. I thought we played poorly at their place last time, shot extremely poorly.”
“We look to try to end the regular season Tuesday on a good note, and get ready for playoffs here against a very, very well-coached and formidable team.”
Last fall, it may not have looked like a desirable slate to end the season, but the challenging February lineup has benefited the G-Men, in Carlock’s opinion.
“The end of the season couldn’t work out any better than it has for us,” he said. “We’re playing tough teams down the stretch, preparing us for conference tournament play.”
The new Conference 39 includes Graham, Tazewell, Richlands, Grundy, Grayson County and Marion.
The G-Men are averaging 66.5 points per game and are allowing 58.7.
In the last five games, their scoring average has gone up to 74.2 points per outing.
The Spartans, in their wins, have been outscoring opponents by 10.5 points. Their losses were by an average of 7.6 points prior to Friday, when they lost by 29 points to Radford.
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The Graham G-Girls (14-7), coming off Friday’s last-minute 47-45 win over Grayson County, finish up the regular season on Wednesday with a makeup game, also at home, against Fort Chiswell (9-9 prior to Monday’s action).
Graham has won six of their past seven games, by an average victory margin of 17.8 points. Overall, Graham averages 54.7 points and gives up 46.1 on average.
G-Girls coach Tracy Raban said, “We’ve always been a defensive team, as long as I’ve been here. When I took over the program, I said, ‘You know, we’re going to play defense. If you don’t want to play defense, go somewhere else.’ ”
The presence of 6-foot-2 Dejah Carter at center provides a second line of defense in the G-Girls schemes. Raban said she has told her defenders, “We’ve got Dejah inside; she’s guarding the basket. If we get beat, we’ve got somebody big there, to stop it.”
Raban said that after Wednesday’s result, “Then we’ll have to wait to see (the final conference) standings. ... We’ve got to wait until everybody gets finished with the regular season.”
“If we stay in second, we’ll get a bye,” she said. “If not, the third- and fourth-(place) team hosts the first-round game, and then the rest of it is at Richlands.”
Richlands Middle School will be the site for the girls semifinals and finals. “That was pre-determined before the season started,” Raban said.
— Contact Tom Bone at firstname.lastname@example.org