By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
WYTHEVILLE, Va. —
It must be the jerseys, or the G-Men in the jerseys.
Spencer Sheets scored 22 points, Colby Hill added 21, and Marshall Hawley and Roman Workman dominated on the glass, as Graham pulled out the gold jerseys and pants for the first time since the state semifinal club in 2002 and defeated George Wythe 68-50 in the Region C, Division 2 quarterfinals on Wednesday night.
“The last time these uniforms were worn we had some pretty good basketball players here that wore them,” Graham head coach Glynn Carlock Jr. said. “They made a lot of basketball success for our school and a lot of wins in them.”
Graham (16-8) will host Grayson County in the second of two semifinal games on Friday night, with the winning team advancing to Saturday’s championship and the state tournament next week.
Hill hopes to sport the gold jerseys against the Blue Devils, who have won two of three against the G-Men this season.
“It is the first time we have worn them in a long time,” Hill said. “I would like to keep wearing them, as long as we keep winning I will wear them.”
Graham never trailed against the Hogoheegee District regular season and tournament champions, taking a 24-14 halftime lead, and the Maroons (14-12) never got closer than seven after the break.
“We just figured out we had to come out here and play with emotion and enthusiasm and make the game fun,” said Hill, whose G-Men had lost two straight and four of their last five games. “We have been playing with our heads down and not attacking on offense, not playing with enthusiasm on defense.
“We came out here with a whole new attitude. Two more games to state baby.”
The G-Men played aggressive man-to-man defense, getting hands in the passing lanes and forcing more than 20 turnovers, while Graham answered George Wythe fouls by making 13-of-14 free throws in the opening half and 34-of-42 for the game.
“We have been practicing free throws all the time,” said Hill, who was 12-13 from the charity stripe, while Sheets was 9-10. “We haven’t been shooting very well up to this point, tonight we came out there and sunk our free throws and iced the game.”
George Wythe, which was led by Isaac Baltazaar with four 3s and 15 points and Jordan Byrd with 10, attempted just 15 shots from the charity stripe, making six. They also missed numerous point-blank shots at the bucket.
“They were very aggressive, we challenged them...We collectively challenged each and every kid to do their role and do what needed to be done,” Carlock said. “I can’t say enough about them.
“We will try to get two more wins on our home court and hope for a big home crowd against Grayson on Friday night.”
Graham suffered a blow early when center Zach Proffitt rolled an ankle, but senior Marshall Hawley stepped up and scored eight points and pulled down five rebounds. Freshman Roman Workman had a huge game, with four steals, three assists and matched Hill with 10 rebounds.
“They both dominated the boards, Marshall came in and got his buckets, Roman played well on defense,” said Hill, who also had four assists and two steals. “It was a team effort out there tonight and I am just proud of all our guys.”
Tony Hood added six points and three assists for the G-Men.
“Marshall has it in him, offensively he was challenged to have to play more tonight and help us when Zach went out, I can’t say enough about him,” Carlock said. “I also can’t say enough about Colby, Tony and Spencer, when Tony went out Spencer stepped up and ran the point guard for us...”
George Wythe pulled within 9-8 with 2:37 left in the first quarter, but the G-Men outscored the Maroons 15-6 to the break. Graham was just 5-for-23 in the opening half, but the Maroons were even worst at 5-25.
“We came in at halftime and we were happy with what we were doing,” Hill said. “We were playing hard, there is nothing more you can ask if you are playing hard, we just left it all out there tonight.”
Twice, the turnover-prone Maroons cut the lead to seven, but the G-Men answered each run, building a 44-31 lead behind 10 points by Hill. Consecutive 3s by Baltazaar and a 7-0 run with 3:01 left by George Wythe narrowed the margin to 55-47, and much of that happened with Graham’s point guard, Hood, on the bench in foul trouble.
Not a problem, as Carlock gave Sheets the ball and challenged him to play like a senior.
“I told him in the huddle, ‘You are a senior, you are going to have to handle the ball here for several minutes’,” Carlock said, “and he did a phenomenal job and did exactly what we asked him to do.”
The seventh-seeded G-Men outscored the second seed Maroons 13-3 over the final three minutes, including 11-of-15 from the free throw line.
“Seeds are just a number, we had to come in here knowing we were going to win the game,” Hill said. “If you think you are going to lose the game before it starts you have already lost. It is just a mindset, that is all it is.”
As for those uniforms, they were last used in 2002 when current NFL running back Ahmad Bradshaw wore No. 5 — the same number worn on this night by Workman — and led the G-Men to the state semifinals.
“This was (Marshall’s) best rebounding effort. He had to have double digit rebounds, a freshman hitting the glass that well,” Carlock said. “A little momentum is a good thing, a win can cure a lot of problems, we needed this in a bad way.”
While the uniforms might have helped, the players in the jerseys certainly did their part too.
“Coupled with their wanting to wear gold and me knowing how many wins they had in them, we decided to break them out tonight and you would like to think we had a little magic in them,” Carlock said. “It can also be attributed to two days of hard work in the gym.
“These guys came in here Monday and Tuesday and worked extremely hard to correct some of the problems we have faced over the last few ball games. I am very proud of them.”
—Contact Brian Woodson
at George Wythe High School
Tony Hood 1 4-6 6, Spencer Sheets 6 9-10 22, Marshall Hawley 3 2-2 8, Zach Proffitt 0 2-2 2, Colby Hill 4 12-13 21, Roman Workman 1 2-2 4, Samuel Stowers 1 0-0 2, Jonathan Figueroa 0 2-3 2, Jacob Simpson 0 1-2 1, Josh Altizer 0 0-2 0, Tim Clarke 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 34-42 68.
GEORGE WYTHE (14-12)
Isaac Baltazaar 4 3-3 15, Jalen France 5 0-0 10, Grant Anders 0 0-0 0, Ryan Layman 1 2-4 4, Travis Hedgepeth 1 0-2 2, Jordan Byrd 5 0-1 10, Marcus Hash 3 1-3 7, Josh Cregger 1 0-0 2, Dylan Ray 0 0-0 0, Darius Moore 0 0-0 0, Dre Cook 0 0-0 0, Darnell Wilkins 0 0-0 0, Chase Rosenbaum 0 0-2 0. Totals 20 6-15 50.
Graham...............16 8 20 24 — 68
George Wythe.......10 4 17 19 — 50
3-point goals: GR 2 (Sheets 1, Hill 1); GW 4 (Baltazaar 4). Total fouls: GR 13; GW 28. Fouled out: Baltazaar. Technicals: none.