BLUEFIELD, Va. —
Effort, heart, desire, pride ... name it and the G-Men needed every bit of it on Friday night.
No wonder with what was at stake.
Colby Hill scored 28 points, including six points in the second overtime, and Graham advanced to the Group A, Division 2 state tournament with a heart-pounding 77-75 win over Grayson County in the Region C semifinals at a boisterous Graham Middle School.
Graham (17-8) will play Radford (23-2) in the regional finals tonight at about 8 p.m. The Bobcats advanced with a 58-51 win over Glenvar. Both teams have qualified for the state tournament slated to begin next week.
“A great atmosphere, we are excited,” Graham head coach Glynn Carlock Jr. said. “We hope that the Bluefield, Virginia people will follow us tomorrow night and follow us to the state next week down at UVa-Wise.”
The G-Men had lost a one-point game to the Blue Devils (18-7) earlier this season on the same court. Hill and the G-Men were determined not to let it happen again, improving to 2-0 since donning the gold jerseys and shorts for the first time since 2002.
“It hard to win a close game like that,” Hill said. “We didn’t want it to happen again and end our season and now we get to take a trip to states to UVa-Wise, but we have a game tomorrow ahead of us first and we have to come in and play Radford hard.”
Grayson County led by as much as seven in the opening half, and left 32-29 at the break. Graham rallied to take a 47-45 lead into the final period, and the next 16 minutes of basketball had the partisan crowd on its feet.
“This time of the year, X’s and O’s, you can throw them out the window, it is about who wants to win,” Grayson County head coach Lucas Austin said. “I am not saying my guys didn’t want to win, but somebody has got to be a loser in that game. That is about as good as a game can get.”
There were five lead changes and five ties in the final period, with Roman Workman — who hit three 3s in the opening half — leading the G-Men with seven of his 16 points, playing unlike the freshman that he is.
Tony Hood had three 3s and 13 points, Spencer Sheets tallied 11 and Zach Proffitt canned eight points.
“I couldn’t have done it with out Colby Hill, Tony (Hood), there were perfect passes to me,” said Workman, who had four of Graham’s nine 3s. “We ran the floor good, we just came out there and play hard like we do every night. We have a tough game tomorrow, we are going to come out and play harder.”
Grayson County, which was led by the brother duo of Max Rodgers and Mikey Rodgers with 20 points each, trailed by two with 39.3 seconds left in regulation when Max Rodgers drove to the hoop to tie the score at 64-64.
Both teams had opportunities, but when Hood’s 3 at the buzzer fell short, the G-Men were in their first overtime game of the season.
“It is about effort, heart and desire and pride really, to be honest with you,” Carlock said. “We told them in the huddle, we just had a conversation in regards to not being able to play an overtime game this year and we talked about it as a team.
“In the first overtime we said, ‘If it is going to be our first overtime game, we might as win it.’ We tried to battle hard and we did what we needed to do down the stretch and I am just proud of these guys, these guys have put it all on the line here.”
It wasn’t easy. Graham took three two-point leads in the extra period, but the Blue Devils continued to come back, with Mikey Rodgers making a turnaround jumper in the lane as the buzzer sounded to tie the score at 70-70 and force another overtime.
“We knew it was going to be tight, it is hard to beat anybody three times,” said Austin, whose Blue Devils had won two of three against the G-Men this season. “Graham had a great game plan and they stuck with it and they knocked shots down along with it. I thought they bogged us down a little bit offensively with their zone.”
Hill took over in the second overtime after the Blue Devils took a 73-72 lead on an offensive putback by Max Rodgers and a free throw with 2:16 on the clock.
“You are going to want the ball in your hands,” Hill said. “I was playing good, my shots were falling, my teammates and my coaches were giving me confidence to get me the ball and drawing plays up for me.
“I am just glad that everybody out here believes in me and let’s me have the ball in those situations.”
Hood tied it with a free throw and after a Grayson County miss, Hill got loose, drove to the hoop and make the layup and let loose with a fist pump after getting fouled on the play.
“That was just pure emotion and enthusiasm coming through,” said Hill, who followed with a made free throw, finishing 7 for 8 from the charity stripe. “I didn’t even know I did it, it is just in the spur of the moment getting into the game.
“That is all it is, you have got have that in a big game.”
Max Rodgers cut the lead to 76-75 with just 20 seconds to go, and Graham attempted to run out the clock before Hill was fouled with 3.6 seconds on the clock. He made the second of two free throws for the 77-75 lead.
Grayson County, which lost point guard Ty Cannaday with five fouls in the second overtime, drove the ball downcourt after a timeout by each team, but Lucas Rudy’s shot fell short at the buzzer.
Cannaday had 17 points in the loss, while Rudy added 13.
“That certainly hurt us, Ty is our leader, he is our point guard, our best player, but I thought the guys that were in there did a great job in the last overtime and gave us a chance to win,” Austin said.
That set off a lengthy celebration, with the Graham student section celebrating with the G-Men for several minutes on the floor.
“It is sweet,” said Carlock, of the win. “I have the utmost respect for Grayson County, Lucas Austin does a great job, the whole school is a class act, the kids are a class act.
“I hate that somebody has to lose a game like this, but you know what, I am sure glad the gold team won.”
Graham will return to its home gym tonight to face Radford, which is 23-2 and have won 16 games in a row. The Bobcats have been where the G-Men want to go, winning state titles in 2009 and 2011.
“I don’t think you are going to find many teams in single A as talented as Radford is, they can play 12 or 13 guys at least and have no drop off,” Carlock said. “Playing a double overtime game tonight is going to check our guts tomorrow to see where our wind is and see how it goes, we are going to have to be on our top game.
“Radford has an established great program and we are trying to make an entire name for ourselves here. I think a few more wins like this will help do this even more and help solidify our program here in single A basketball.”
—Contact Brian Woodson
at Graham Middle School
Tony Hood 4, 2-5 13, Spencer Sheets 5 0-0 11, Marshall Hawley 0 1-2 1, Colby Hill 10 7-8 28, Zach Proffitt 4 0-1 8, Roman Workman 4 4-6 16. Totals 27 14-22 77
GRAYSON COUNTY (18-7)
Ty Cannaday 7 0-0 17, Lucas Rudy 6 1-3 13, Max Rodgers 9 2-4 20, Mikey Rodgers 9 2-5 20, Adam Wyatt 0 0-0 0, Landon Frost 2 1-2 5, Jack Circle 0 0-0 0, Cole Davis 0 0-0 0, Dylan Morris 0 0-0 0. Totals 33 6-14 75.
Graham.......................13 16 18 17 6 7 — 77
Grayson County........17 15 13 19 6 5 — 75
3-point goals: GR 9 (Workman 4, Hood 3, Sheets 1, Hill 1); GY 3 (Cannaday 3). Total fouls: GR 16; GC 16. Fouled out: Cannaday. Technicals: none.