FORT CHISWELL, Va. —
Tournament time means anyone can beat anybody else. There is no looking past one team to get to the next.
The Graham G-Girls found that out the hard way on Wednesday night.
Galax went the final 11:40 of the game with no field goals, but six free throws in the final quarter was enough for the Maroon Tide to defeat cold-shooting Graham 35-29 in the Mountain Empire District tournament semifinals at Fort Chiswell High School.
The Maroon Tide (15-8) will face Grayson County in the MED finals on Friday. The Blue Devils held off Fort Chiswell 71-69 in the other semifinal.
Graham (13-10) had split two decisions with the Maroon Tide during the season, but members of the second-seeded G-Girls admitted they overlooked Galax in anticipation of playing on Friday.
“The girls said they overlooked them, which blows me away,” Graham head coach Tracy Raban said. “You are in the postseason, I don’t care who you are playing, I don’t care if you beat them twice, but to split with them, you don’t overlook anybody.”
“It is really baffles me that that is what they say, but they did.”
Graham, which will travel to either Floyd County or James River in Region C action next week, had their own stretch of cold shooting, going more than 13 minutes in the first half without making a field goal.
That run began after Ashley Moretto put Graham up 10-7 with 5:35 to go in the second period. The G-Girls’ next field goal was a drive to the hoop by Taylor Williams with 1:01 to go in the third to narrow the deficit to 28-19.
“You have to give credit to Galax’s defense,” Raban said. “They came out and played a very aggressive, good fundamental defense, halfcourt man-to-man. We knew they were going to do it, but we just weren’t focused...”
Galax, which have five players score points to four for the G-Girls, outscored Graham 12-4 to take a 19-14 lead into the break, led by Susan Davis, who had 10 points, and Paige Hanks, who had five of her nine points in the second quarter.
The margin grew to 13, at 28-15 on a 3 by Lindsey Vaughan with 4:20 to go in the third. The Blue Devils scored seven more points, including 6 for 12 from the free throw line in the final period.
Grayson County was 10 for 25 in the game, and also connected on three 3s.
“We didn’t shoot free throws well tonight, but the good thing is we did hit (some),” said Galax head coach Yerrick Stoneman, whose Maroon Tide had scored just 29 points in their last game with Graham. “(Tracy) does an excellent job, that matchup zone is pretty tough to get open shots.
“We struggled all three games that we played them this year, not being able to make the open jumpers. We did hit a couple of 3s that helped.”
Raban went to the bench after Vaughan’s 3, brought in five new players, and they proceeded to keep the Blue Devils to one more point, while trimming the margin to 29-19 going into the fourth.
“I subbed there in the third quarter and took the starters out and put the second group in and that is when Galax didn’t score,” Raban said. “That sent a message to the starting group that we had better play and by that time it was too late.”
Galax managed just six free throws and turned it over seven times in the final period, but the G-Girls could only get within four twice, including at 32-28 on a Bethany Evans basket with 1:29 on the clock.
That was followed by unforced turnovers that gave the Maroon Tide the chance to build the lead at the charity stripe. Davis had five of the Maroon Tide’s six points in the fourth.
“Those were crucial turnovers, some of those were credited to the Galax defense, but some were just us being careless with the ball and at this point in the season you can’t make that kind of turnover,” Raban said.
Galax switched to a 1-2-2 zone in the fourth quarter because of foul trouble, and that defense was enough to limit the G-Girls to 16 second half points.
“I think what really hurt us is we did have four players on the court at the end of the ball game with four fouls so that was kind of scary,” Stoneman said, “but luckily we were able to get by with it.”
Four Graham players got on the board, led by Moretto with 10 points and seven from Williams. The G-Girls were 15 for 25 at the charity stripe and didn’t make a 3.
“With a team like Galax, they are not going to give up on you and give you any kind of run,” Raban said. “We fought back, but it was just a little bit too late. Credit to Galax, they came out and played a better game than we did tonight.”
Graham will face a tall task in its Region C opener next week, with probable top two seeds Floyd County and James River a combined 37-7 heading into Wednesday’s games.
“It is a tough matchup, it is very hard. I feel like as a coach, this is where the job gets hard coming off a tough loss like this and trying to make them rebound for a big game like that next week,” said Raban, whose G-Girls will be the seventh or eighth seed. “I feel like the next couple of days are crucial, not as far as Xs and Os, but as far as the mental process for the team.
“That is what we will concentrate on tomorrow and Friday and see if we can get our heads back right and bounce back for a huge game next week wherever we have to go.”
—Contact Brian Woodson
at “The Fort”
Susan Davis 2 5-8 10, Paige Hanks 3 2-3 9, Carolyn Vaughn 1 1-2 4, Holly Cassell 2 2-6 6, Sydney Lindsey 3 0-0 6, Lauren Garvey 0 0-0 0, Lindsey Ayers 0 0-6 0. Totals 11 10-25 35.
Karly Morgan 0 0-0 0, Emaleigh Gallinger 1 4-10 6, Liz Workman 0 0-0 0 0, Bethany Evans 2 2-2 6, Ashley Moretto 2 6-10 10, Erin Wilso 0 0-0 0, Alysia Leung 0 0-0 0, Taylor Williams 2 3-3 7, Casey Spencer 0 0-0 0, Ashley Rasnake 0 0-0 0, Bailee Poe 0 0-0 0. Totals 7 15-25 29.
Galax.......................................7 12 10 6 — 35
Graham....................................8 6 5 10 — 29
3-point goals: GX 3 (Davis 1, Hanks 1, Vaughn 1); GR 0. Total fouls: 21; GR 20. Fouled out: none. Technicals: none.