By JONATHAN GREENE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
In basketball, there are some nights were it feels like there is a lid on the hoop and nothing will fall.
The Bland County Lady Bears experienced that first hand Wednesday night as their shots just would not fall in a 47-16 loss to Grayson County at Bland High School.
“It’s a big win. It’s the second night we traveled in a row,” Grayson County head coach Tiny Funk said. “We were at Graham last night. We caught Bland on bad shooting night and we did what we’re supposed to do.
“We took care of the basketball early, got some easy shots and put the ball in the hole. We got out to a big lead which made it a little more comfortable for us.”
The Blue Devils (15-4) raced out to a 14-point lead after one and led 34-4 at the half. Their advantage over the Lady Bears (3-13) grew to as many as 35 in the second half.
“We’ve played so well the last few games,” Bland County head coach Jason Lambert said. “The other night at Northwood, we gave one away. We led the whole game, shot the ball well and I know they were disappointed with losing. I guess I was naïve, because I felt like coming in we were on a roll.
“Looking back, I feel like we thought as long as we show up we’ll continue to play well. That intensity we’ve had over the last few games wasn’t there. If we don’t play with that intensity, we can’t compete. One thing we can control every night is our effort.
“We’ve got to come and give more of an effort than everyone else. I felt like our effort wasn’t there especially in the first half. They out-hustled us, out-played us. We took good shots, but the intensity level wasn’t there.”
Camryn McGrady and Meredith Frost helped Grayson County open a big lead in the first quarter. The two combined for 16 points with 10 coming from McGrady.
The Blue Devils led 16-0 before Bland County got on the board near the end of the quarter. After several good looks throughout the period, Tara Holbrook banked in a jumper with 20 seconds left.
“It’s real nice,” Funk said of building a big lead. “We have six sophomores and freshmen. We go throw growing pains ourselves.
“We’ve not been in this situation much where we’ve got a big lead. Coach Lambert does a great job with those kids. It was just one of those nights where they couldn’t find the basket and it benefited us.”
Bland County’s shooting struggles continued in the second quarter while Grayson County continued to covert on their end.
Sarah Eller took a steal in for a score then added a jumper. McGrady followed with back-to-back jumpers from the top of the key to make it 25-2 midway through the second.
The Blue Devils lead grew to 32-2 prior to a putback from Bland County’s Tori Smith.
Both teams went to a mix of their starters and bench in the third and fourth quarters.
“It’s real good, because the kids on my bench contribute tremendously,” Funk said. “They work hard in practice every day and it’s real nice when they get to play in the game. I feel bad when they don’t get to play.
“Sometimes it just doesn’t work out. It’s real nice to give them a reward and they played hard tonight. They did some really good things.”
In the second half, the Lady Bears played evenly with Grayson County. A three from Alyssa Harris was Bland County’s only score of the third, but they put up nine points in the fourth quarter.
Smith and Danielle Russo each hit free throws then Samantha Garland score on a putback and free throw. Russo added a basket and Erin Brinkley finished off the scoring with jumper.
“I think the second the score was 13-12,” Lambert said. “He still played his starters and we competed. We were giving more of an effort. This group understands we’re still missing shot, but defensively, we’re competing.
“It was night and day difference between halves. They’ve got to understand they have to do that constantly. Like I said, if it was me who didn’t have them ready, I take full responsibility. It will not happen again.”
McGrady paced the Blue Devils with 16 points. Frost had nine points and Eller finished with eight. All 10 players for Grayson County scored.
Russo, Smith, Harris and Garland each had three points for Bland County.
“With this group, I’ve babied them at times. I’ve thrown temper tantrums at times on them,” Lambert commented. “To be honest, it’s been a horrible year me coaching them, because I haven’t found what motivates them at times. As a coach, that is what you’re supposed to do. It’s a fine line with this group and I’ve not done a good job. They know they have to work hard.”
Both teams will be back in action Friday with Bland County visiting Graham and Grayson County traveling to Galax.
At Bland High School
GRAYSON COUNTY (15-4)
Meredith Frost 9, Sarah Eller 8, Autumn Halsey 2, Mary Meier 2, Lydia Flippin 2, Camryn McGrady 16, Emily Hart 4, Brady Cassell 1, Taylor Cannaday 1, Madison Shupe 2. Totals- 17 13-20 47.
BLAND COUNTY (3-13)
Danielle Russo 3, Tara Holbrook 2, Tori Smith 3, Alyssa Harris 3, Samantha Garland 3, Erin Brinkley 2. Totals- 6 2-7 16.
Grayson County.......................16 18 5 8 – 47
Bland County.............................2 2 3 9 – 16
3 pt field goals: GC none, BC 1 (Harris). Fouled out- None.