By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
The Graham G-Girls defense resembled a sticky thicket of arms at times Friday night, and it was more than enough to produce a 50-39 win over the Wyoming East Warriors in the first game of the Little General Invitational Basketball Tournament at River View High School.
The two teams were tied 7-7 after the first quarter. Graham began to pull away late in the half, going 6 for 9 at the free throw line in the last 2:30 of the second quarter to increase a two-point advantage to a 26-19 lead at the break.
Ashley Moretto had already reached double-figure scoring with 10 points in the first half. She finished as the game's high scorer with 15.
Graham freshman Emaleigh Gallinger pulled off three steals in the third quarter. When Wyoming East did retain the ball, their shooting touch went even colder in the steaming-hot gym. The Warriors tallied just four points in the period.
The G-Girls were 6 for 11 from the field in the third quarter and took a 41-25 lead going into the final eight minutes.
The Warriors put a scare into the Graham fans by going on a 13-4 run in a span of slightly more than four minutes, closing the scoring gap to 45-38.
The G-Girls redoubled their defensive effort for the rest of the contest, and the Wyoming countians got just one more point. Taylor Williams collected the game's final field goal to restore Graham's lead to double digits, 49-39, with 1:52 remaining.
Graham head coach Tracy Raban said, “We played defense when we had to (but) it wasn't there for the whole game. They had No. 11 (the Warriors' Chelsea Duncan) and No. 25 scoring, and I wasn't pleased with the team effort, stopping the two of them.”
Asked about the G-Girls' turnover advantage, she said, “I think teams underestimate our speed. I try to get them (the Graham team) to understand how we can use our speed to force turnovers – and then make sure we do something with it when we get it.”
Both Pertee and Duncan wound up with 13 points for Wyoming East. Gallinger, who finished with 14, combined with Moretto to sink 11 of Graham's 16 field goals in the game.
Gallinger said that becoming a varsity starter as a ninth grader made her nervous “at first. Then I got used to it.”
She said about the mountainous trip from Graham to Bradshaw, “It was a long drive, but it was worth it.”
Graham advanced to the championship of the invitational, set for 3 p.m today in Bradshaw. The first game of the day, at 1 p.m., will pit Wyoming East against host team River View.
— Contact Tom Bone at firstname.lastname@example.org
At River View High School
Wyoming East...............................7 12 4 14 – 39
Graham..........................................7 19 15 9 – 50
Kristen Bailey 1 0-0 2, Chelsea Duncan 5 3-4 13, Chiara Jewell 2 1-1 5, Breanna Pertee 5 2-6 13, Taleah Bailey 0 3-5 3, Hannah Ford 0 1-2 1, Haley Lowman 0 2-2 2. Totals 13 12-20 39.
Alysia Leung 1 2-5 4, Emaleigh Gallinger 5 4-8 14, Taylor Williams 1 2-4 4, Casey Spencer 1 0-0 2, Bethany Evans 2 3-6 7, Ashley Rasnake 1 0-0 2, Ashley Moretto 6 1-2 15, Carolyn Springman 0 2-4 2. Totals 17 14-29 50.
3-point goals – WE 1 (Pertee 1). GHS 3 (Moretto 3). Fouled out – none.