GALAX, Va. —
aBy CRAIG WORRELL
The (Galax) Gazette
GALAX, Va. –– The Galax boys' cross country team was presented its state championship rings at halftime of the Maroon Tide's Region 1A West quarterfinal Tuesday, including four members of the boys' basketball squad.
The school's hoops season still has its legs under coming down the homestretch.
The top-seeded Maroon Tide (18-4) built a 12-point lead by the late stages of the second quarter, stymied repeated Narrows comeback attempts through the second half and will make a run for a Group 1A tournament berth Friday in the region semifinals at Virginia High after holding off the Green Wave 60-54.
Narrows, having found a spark after entering the postseason on a five-game slide, saw its season come to an end with an 11-12 record. The Green Wave won twice to reach its Conference 45 title game against Radford, whom Narrows held 34 points below the Bobcats' season scoring average in a six-point loss.
"We had effort, energy, they were so motivated," Narrows coach Chris Gautier said. "That was huge for us in the conference tournament. We got here trying to ride some of that momentum and effort, and we got that at times tonight.
“But you've got to credit Galax because they were just so physical from the start and they controlled the tempo. They controlled the style of the game and we never got comfortable and got settled."
Galax had held seven of its previous eight opponents to fewer than 40 points before Tuesday and won for the 14th time in its last 15 outings.
Narrows poured in 28 fourth-quarter points to end that streak, but the first three periods weren't so productive for the Green Wave.
"We just had to come out and play defense. That's been our mentality all year," said Cliff Conley, who led the Tide with 21 points and also picked up some extra bling at halftime for his individual XC state title. "As long as we can hold them to where we think we should, which is under 50 points most of the time, we've got a good shot at winning. It got a little tight at the end but we just had to play through it."
Leading by six at halftime, Galax pulled out to its largest lead when a Dominic DiGiacomo 3- pointer and a three-point play from Chase Garvey spotted the Tide a 35-22 lead midway through the third.
Narrows pulled to within 41-35 on a 13-6 run capped by a Burton free throw with 4:37 left but Galax went to the foul line to extend back out to a 13-point gap by the 2:13 mark.
"I've been worried all weekend, yesterday today," said Galax coach Verl Brown. "Those guys are big, they run a good match-up zone and they get you out of your offense.
“Our goal was to try to get help on their shooters and not double the post as much as we have been, just keep the ball out of Burton and [Rodney] Perdue's hands."
The Narrows tandem still combined for 29 points, led by Burton's 17. Kyle Hall added 11.
Galax had just one free throw attempt in the first three periods before hitting 9-of-15 in the fourth, including 6-of-7 by Conley, to seal the win.
"We told our guys that for the rest of the year it's going to go down to the wire," said Brown, who led Galax to state titles in 2011 and 2012.
"Everybody's fighting for their life knowing it could be their last game, and it's just a matter of who can finish."
Givens 1 0-0 2, Perdue 3 5-7 12, Hall 3 4-4 11, Burton 6 4-9 17, Lively 2 0-0 4, Collins 1 0-0 2, Spangler 1 2-2 4, Baker 1 0-0 2. Totals 18 15-22 54.
Merdian 2 1-3 5, Quesenberry 2 0-0 5, Pack 1 0-0 2, Garvey 3 2-3 8, DiGiacomo 2 1-2 6,
K.Brown 1 0-0 2, Bartlett 1 0-0 3, Conley 6 6-7 21, Peoples 4 0-1 8. Totals 22 10-16 60.
Narrows....................................16 10 10 28 –– 54
Galax...........................................8 16 15 21 –– 60
3-point field goals – Narrows 3 (Perdue, Hall, Burton), Galax 6 (Conley 3, Bartlett, Quesenberry, DiGiacomo). Team fouls – Narrows 22, Galax 17. Fouled out – Givens, Burton. Technical fouls – none.