By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
BLAND, Va. —
It was the first to 30 points. That was Graham.
Bailee Poe came off the bench to score 11 points and pull down 12 rebounds, and the Graham G-Girls pulled out a hard-fought 39-26 Mountain Empire District victory over Bland County on Friday night at a packed and steamy Bland High School gymnasium.
Thirty-nine percent might not sound all that good in terms of shooting percentage for Graham, but G-Girls’ head coach Tracy Raban couldn’t complain too much.
“It wasn’t pretty, but if you look at the stats, it is the best we have shot all year,” Raban said. “Surprisingly, we were 39 percent from the field, which considering ... I don’t think either team is a very well-shooting team.
“I am pleased. I think we stepped up and knocked down the big ones when we needed to step up.”
That 39 percent would bring a smile to Bland County head coach Jason Lambert, whose Bears made just 21.1 percent from the field, a trend that has seen his club average just 30.7 points a contest heading into the game.
Bland County has now lost three games in the MED, and allowed just 41, 41 and 39 points.
“Defensively, we hustle, we do everything we can.” Lambert said. “I love that, I can’t complain, but we are struggling shooting the ball...
“The same thing tonight. I thought we hustled, we put ourselves in position, but when you can’t make shots you can’t do much.”
Graham never trailed, taking an 8-6 lead after one quarter and a 19-9 advantage at the break, with the G-Girls forcing 15 turnovers, and eight different players scoring points.
That lead grew to 23-9 before the Bears went on a 9-0 run to cut the margin to 23-18. That would be as close as Bland County came, as Poe provided a lift with eight second half points, and also controlled the boards.
“I am very pleased with that, I knew Bailee could do it,” Raban said. “It is a matter of her getting comfortable with the team she is playing with in her first year with this group of kids, but probably the most athletic kid I have on the team.”
Bland County was led by Amber Eaton, who had 13 points, including the only 3 in the game, and five in the final period as the Bears cut the gap to 33-26.
The G-Girls (8-5, 2-1) scored the final six points of the game to collect their fourth win in the last five games, with a visit to Fort Chiswell on tap for Wednesday.
“In this type of district you are just happy to come out with a win and pleased with the victory,” Raban said. “I don’t care how good you are, if you come here you are going to get Bland’s best effort.
“Hats off to them, they hustle, they are flying all the court. If I had to pick any team in the district to have heart and pride I think they have the most...
“You are going to get their best effort in this kind of environment.”
Emaleigh Gallinger added seven points for Graham, while Karly Morgan added six.
Bland County (2-10, 0-3), which received four points and 14 rebounds from Alyssa Harris, will host Northwood on Monday.
“You have got to make shots, it boils down to making shots,” Lambert said. “It don’t matter how hard you play, if you can’t score you just can’t win.
“I told my kids, ‘I love the way you play, how hard you play, nobody can take that away from you’, but we have just got to keep scoring. I also told them, ‘the night we do score, I would hate to be team plays us. They have got to keep their heads up and keep fighting.”
At Bland High School
GRAHAM (8-5, 2-1)
Karly Morgan 2 2-2 6, Emaleigh Gallinger 2 3-7 7, Liz Workman 1 1-4 3, Bethany Evans 2 1-4 5, Ashley Moretto 2 0-0 4, Erin Wilson 0 2-2 2, Casey Spencer 0 1-2 1, Bailee Poe 4 3-5 11, Alysa Leung 0 0-0 0, Ashley Rasnake 0 0-0 0, Carolyn Springman 0 0-0 0.
BLAND COUNTY (2-10, 0-3)
Julia Davis 1 1-2 3, Amber Eaton 4 4-7 13, Danielle Russo 1 2-4 4, Alyssa Harris 2 0-1 4, Tori Smith 0 0-0 0, Kristin Dillow 1 0-0 2, Lindsey Faulkner 0 0-0 0, Erin Brinkley 0 0-0 0, Lindsey Dean 0 0-0 0, Tara Holbrook 0 0-0 0, Samantha Garland 0 0-0 0. Totals 9 7-14 26.
Graham.................................8 11 10 10 — 39
Bland County.......................6 3 11 6 — 26
3-point goals: GR 0; BC 1 (Eaton 1). Total fouls: GR 17; BC 19. Fouled out: none. Technicals: none. JV—Graham won.