BLUEFIELD, Va. —
Next up, tournament time.
What a way to go into it for the G-Men.
Colby Hill led four Graham scorers in double figures with 26 points, and the G-Men avenged an earlier loss to Giles with a 77-62 win over the Spartans on Tuesday night at Graham Middle School.
Graham completed its regular season with a six-game win streak and a 16-6 record, and won’t play again until the Conference 39 semifinals on Feb. 21 at Richlands Middle School.
“Overall I am just very, very proud of how we have been able to finish this thing with six in a row,” said Graham head coach Glynn Carlock Jr., whose G-Men will have the top seed in the six-team Conference 39 tournament. “Our guys are playing some of our best basketball that we have played throughout the year.”
The current win streak began after a 69-61 loss at Giles on Jan. 27, but the G-Men had entered that one having dropped two of four. There were no such issues this time.
“I think they came into this game with a lot of momentum and they have really been playing well,” Giles head coach Seth Davis said. “They really played well the last quarter at our place.
“Their dribble penetration really hurt us throughout the game, but I think that was probably the biggest difference. I think their guys played with a lot more confidence tonight and (Tony) Hood and Hill had much better games than they had at our place. They really do a good job of running that team.”
Hill’s 26 points were accompanied by 20 points and nine rebounds by Roman Workman, 12 points and six assists from Hood, and another 10 points, five boards, five steals and four assists from Thomas Clarke.
Nick Morgan also added eight points, joining Hill two 3s apiece.
“Hats off to them, a very well coached team, a very good team,” Davis said. “I see them as a team that can really make a run here in February.”
Giles (11-7) led 44-40 with 2:34 left in the third period before the G-Men began to run the floor, ending the quarter with 12-1 run, capped off by a drive to the hoop by Workman and a 3 from Morgan to build a 52-45 lead.
Hood was especially effective after the break, controlling the ball and dishing out nifty passes, scoring 10 of his points in the final period.
“Charlie Stephens did a pretty good job on Hood and he did a great job on him back home, but ultimately they executed at the times that were most crucial,” Davis. “I think we had a lead there towards in the end of the third quarter or maybe into the fourth, but they made it when they counted.”
The 6-foot-3 John Shelor, who had 33 points in Graham’s lost at Giles, led the Spartans with 21 points, while 6-4 Trenton Ray added 17 and Stephens tossed in 10.
“I think overall this was a great way to cap off the regular season,” Carlock said. “This is a team that is going to mimic teams that you are going to see in the tournament.
“They have a good player and they are well coached. They are patient, and they play very good defense in the half court.”
Graham used a 12-5 run to end the second quarter to take a 33-29 lead into the break. Led by Shelor’s 10 third period points, the Spartans built a 44-40 lead before the G-Men went on, literally, another run, eventually building the lead to as many as 16 in the final seconds.
“They have really accepted their roles, but we have to play fast,” Carlock said.. “When we play fast we are a better basketball team, when we get out and fill our lanes and run the floor, we are at our best.”
The G-Men struggled early from the free throw line, making 7 for 15 at one point, but finished 23 for 33, led by Hill, who was 8 for 8 and Workman, who was 7 for 9.
“We outscored them 25-17 in the fourth quarter, we talk about 20-plus quarters and we were able to get that in the last one so that enabled us to be able to pull away a little bit more,” Carlock said. “We shot better at the free throw line tonight.”
The much-improved Spartans still have two regular season games remaining, tonight against defending Division 1 state champion Radford and Glenvar on Friday before taking part in the Conference 38 tournament next week, with Floyd County and high-scoring Caleb Tanner considered the favorite.
Just don’t count out the Spartans. Just like with Graham and Conference 39, the top two teams in this first season of conference play will advance on to regional action.
“I really hope so, we have had two really good games with Floyd,” Davis said. “Right now that is what it is looking like, but whoever it is we are going to give everybody our best shot.
“We have been playing good basketball at times, hopefully by that time we are going to be where we want to be.”
Any team with a win streak like Graham currently has would like to play sooner rather than later — in this case 10 days from now — but Carlock is fine with a few days of practice in hopes of getting better for postseason play.
“Is it bad? Obviously when you are playing well you would like to keep playing, but we have a lot of things we can do better,” Carlock said. “I am excited that this will be the biggest span of practices that we have had since preseason. We are going to keep it fresh and try to keep them zeroed in on what we are trying to accomplish here.”
—Contact Brian Woodson
at Graham Middle School
George Buchanan 2 0-0 4, John Shelor 8 4-4 21, Trenton Ray 4 8-10, 17, Charlie Stephens 4 2-4 10, Dakoda Shrader 2 2-6 6, Kory Wilson 0 2-2 2, Carson Journell 0 2-3 2, Cody Rhodes 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 20-29 62.
Tony Hood 5 2-3 12, Roman Workman 6 7-9 20, Thomas Clarke 3 3-8 10, Colby Hill 8 8-8 26, Tanner Miller 0 1-2 1, Nick Morgan 2 2-2 8, Ben Meade 0 0-0 0. Totals 24 23-32 77.
Giles............13 16 16 17 — 62
Graham........15 18 19 25 — 77
3-point goals: GL 2 (Shelor 1, Ray 1); GR 6 (Hill 2, Morgan 1, Clarke 1, Workman 1). Total fouls: GL 23; GR 21. Fouled out: none. Technicals: none. JV—Giles 25 (Jacob Kirk 12), Graham 18 (DeQuan Booker 7).