By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
ROCKY GAP, Va. —
It was a great night to be a Bear, until things turned foul.
The Bland County Bears built a 10-point first half lead against the Mountain Empire District co-leaders on Tuesday night, and led by nine early in the third period, but the Grayson County Blue Devils made 15 of 27 foul shots and rallied for a 65-58 victory at Rocky Gap High School.
Four players from Grayson County (12-5) reached double figures to keep the Blue Devils’ district record perfect at 5-0 despite not having Mikey Rogers on the floor due to illness.
Bland County (11-7, 3-4 MED) went all-out to thwart their visitors’ schemes, and didn’t back down after Grayson County took an 8-2 edge to start the game.
The Bears took their first lead, 17-14, after six minutes of play on a three-pointer by Chase Hankins. That came during a 14-2 run by the home team that included four treys in a row and produced a 26-16 lead with 7:10 left before halftime.
Darryl Clark of Bland County, who led all scorers with 21 points, said, “We moved the ball well, and had a lot of on-ball screens, and hit a lot of good open shots.”
In the final 2:22 before the break, the Blue Devils used an up-tempo offense to nail the last six points of the half, cutting the Bears’ advantage to 34-31.
Clark scored his team’s first nine points after intermission to push the Bears’ lead to 44-35.
Bland County head coach Rich Hankins said, “He gave us the momentum, coming out of halftime, tried to put us on his back a little bit and carry the team.”
“But one man, one or two men, are just not going to get the job done for us. We’ve got to share the basketball and get more people involved on offense.”
The Bears’ offense scored just six more field goals after Clark’s outburst.
“I think we started limiting their looks,” Grayson County coach Lucas Austin said. “At halftime, we focused on just giving them one shot and getting the rebound.”
Living close to the basket, the Blue Devils closed out the third quarter going 4 of 5 from the floor and trailed 48-46.
“We’re a penetrating team, and they shut our penetration down,” Austin said. “Finally, we just scratched and clawed our way back in it. I thought we hustled our way back in it.”
The Bears came up empty on their first seven possessions of the fourth quarter while their guests were 6 for 6 in free throws and 1 for 6 in field-goal tries, reclaiming the lead for good.
Clark said, “We knew they weren’t going to quit, that they were going to battle all the way to the end of the game.”
Rich Hankins said, “When they started penetrating and getting all the way to the front of the rim, it seemed like the tide turned a little bit.”
Ty Cannaday, who scored 18 points for the visitors before fouling out with 90 seconds left, said about the foul shots, “Those were big. We finally started getting aggressive and attacking the basket.”
Max Rogers of Grayson County scored six of his 17 points in the final 4:12. He also had a game-high 10 rebounds and three blocks.
Hankins said, “That Rogers kid, he just took over in the fourth quarter. He played like a man down the stretch. He just wasn’t going to be denied.”
Cannaday said, “We were down a couple of key players. We knew we had to come together and just get it done.”
Toward the end, the Bears could not sustain their all-out effort.
Clark said, “We tried to continue to do it, but I think we just got a little bit tired. Their full-court defense always wears us out. They always run the floor well, also, and we just wore out late.”
Rich Hankins said, “Our kids are playing so hard, on both sides of the basketball, that it seems like we’ve got nothing left in that last four-minute stretch.”
He added, “Somehow we’ve got to dig in a little bit deeper, and get some play off of our bench. We’ve gone back to using seven kids, and we’ve got to stretch it out to using two more, maybe three. ...
“We need to get those first five off their feet, off the floor, give them a break. Hopefully that will help us finish some games out, coming down the stretch.”
Clark said, “That was one of the things on the board tonight: Share the ball. Sometimes we did, sometimes we didn’t. It just didn’t work out at the end.”
Only four Bland County players scored. Clark had 21 points, Asher Dillow made four threes and finished with 18 and Hankins had 13 points — attempting all four of the Bears’ foul shots and making them all. Jonah Miller had five rebounds for Bland County.
Austin said, “Bland’s a good team. Hats off to them. They played hard and shot the ball well. We’re just happy to get out of here with the win, for sure.”
The Blue Devils return to the local area today to play Graham, the co-leaders in the MED, at Graham Middle School. Austin said it will be “tough” to face the G-Men on short rest.
“It’s a big game for us, but we’re used to playing back-to-back,” The Grayson County coach said. “It was a hard-fought game tonight. We were hoping we could get to sub a little more down the stretch.”
“But at this time of year, just throw it out the window and see who’s got the heart and hustle. We’ll go out there and play our best and see what happens.”
Bland County plays Graham on Friday. Rich Hankins said, “They’re going to be awfully tough at their place. They spanked us pretty good at Bland, but our kids will be ready for them.”
— Contact Tom Bone at
At Rocky Gap High School
GRAYSON COUNTY (13-5)
Landon Frost 4 2-4 10, Ty Cannaday 8 2-2 18, Lucas Rudy 3 5-8 11, Max Rogers 7 3-6 17, Adam Wyatt 1 0-0 2, Dylan Morris 2 1-2 5, Lucas Mitchell 0 2-4 2. Totals 25 15-27 65.
BLAND COUNTY (11-7)
Asher Dillow 7 0-0 18, Darryl Clark 9 0-0 21, Chase Hankins 4 4-4 13, John Miller 3 0-0 6. Totals 23 4-4 58.
Grayson County......15 16 15 19 — 65
Bland County...........20 14 14 10 — 58
Three-point goals — GC, none; BC 8 (Dillow 4, Clark 3, Hankins 1). Total fouls — GC 8, BC 18. Fouled out — GC, Cannaday; BC, John Miller.