When the going gets tough... Chelsea Gallinger (15) of Graham looks to put up a shot Friday night as Bland County’s Sara Looney, left, and Morgan Brizendine (42) apply defensive pressure. Standing ready are Graham’s Maegan Henry, at left in background, and Bland County’s Amanda Duncan (24).

BLUEFIELD — Down by 30-23 to Bland County in the middle of the third quarter on Friday night, the Graham G-Girls were out of their game plan. Seconds later, on the other side of a timeout by Graham coach Tracy Raban, their long comeback started.

It ended with the G-Girls’ first victory of the season, 49-44 on the Graham Middle School court.

“Bland is a very good ballclub,” Raban said. “The type of defense they play, they deny the lanes and force turnovers.” The solution, she explained, was not to panic but to stay in control.

“Our game plan was to slow the ball down some,” she said, quickly adding, “We want to run, but we want to play smart.”

The first few minutes of the game were scoreless. The G-Girls managed a 16-9 lead in the second quarter, but the Bears’ Sara Looney scored five straight points to trim the lead to one.

Sam Magyar of Bland County nailed her only basket of the game, a three-pointer with six seconds left in the half, to cut Graham’s edge to 20-18 at intermission.

“Graham pushed us around in the first quarter,” said BC coach Jason Lambert. “In the second and third, we fought back.”

The Bears began the third period with a 12-to-3 run before Raban’s timeout changed the game.

It wasn’t easy. The home squad missed five straight field goal attempts, but shot 9-for-10 from the foul line during a stretch that extended halfway through the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, Graham held the Lady Bears to several one-shot trips down the floor. Kirby Mustard’s three-pointer from the top of the key with six minutes left in the game gave Bland County a 39-34 lead — and the visitors got only two field goals thereafter.

Mariah Lampert of Graham scored off her own steal with five minutes remaining. Maegan Henry followed with back-to-back steals, then sank a pair of foul shots to trim the deficit to a single point.

Kelli Landreth’s turnaround jumper with 3:49 left restored the lead to Graham for good. Laurel Hankins scored the two BC field goals to keep things close, on a trey from the right side with 2:32 on the clock, and a slicing layup less than a minute later.

In the game’s final 33 seconds, Maggie Jones and Henry each went 2-for-2 from the line to stretch a one-point margin to the final five-point victory.

“You’ve got to give Graham credit,” Lambert said. “They made the shots down the stretch and we didn’t.”

It was the first loss of the season for the Lady Bears, and Lambert put it into a positive perspective.

He said the G-Girls “are good athletes and they’re very well coached. ... Graham is a physical bunch. We needed that. I told (the Bland County players) I’d like to play Graham once a week, so we can get used to that physical play when the playoffs come around.”

Raban said, “This was the first game in the three-plus years I’ve been here that I can say was an overall team effort. All 11 players got into the game. Maybe they didn’t all get as many minutes as some others, but they all contributed.”

Five Graham players scored eight or more points, led by Landreth with 11 and Henry with 10. The Bears got 13 points from Hankins, who made three treys, and nine from Kirby Mustard.

Foul shots yielded a key stat. The home squad had 23 attempts, making 17, while Bland County was 6-for-10.

The G-Girls host cross-town neighbor Bluefield on Tuesday at Graham Middle School, and travel to Christiansburg on Friday. The Lady Bears take another road trip on Monday evening to Rural Retreat.

— Contact Tom Bone at


At Graham Middle School

Bland County..................4 14 17 9 — 44

Graham..........................10 10 12 17 — 49


Laurel Hankins 5 0-0 13, Sam Magyar 1 0-0 3, Amanda Duncan 1 0-0 2, Emily Williams 1 2-3 4, Kirby Mustart 2 3-5 9, Erika Duncan 2 0-0 4, Morgan Brizendine 1 0-0 2, Kristin Dunn 1 0-0 2, Sara Looney 2 1-2 5. Totals 16 6-10 44.

GRAHAM (1-1)

Kelli Landreth 5 1-2 11, Ashley Simpson 0 0-2 0, Mariah Lampert 3 2-2 8, Chelsea Gallinger 3 3-3 9, Maegan Henry 3 4-4 10, Maggie Jones 1 7-10 9, Elizabeth Rasnake 1 0-0 2. Totals 16 17-23 49.

3-point goals — BC 6 (Hankins 3, Magyar 1, Mustard 2); GHS none.

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