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MAX MEADOWS –– Carroll County had played deliberately for long enough, and picked just the right time to floor it. By the time Radford recovered, the Bobcats had gone from being in a tie ballgame to being in a double-digit hole.
The sudden emergence of a full-court press helped Carroll County open the fourth quarter on a 10-0 run Saturday and the Cavaliers hit their free throws down the stretch to take down Radford 68-58 in the championship game of the First Bank of Virginia Classic at Fort Chiswell High School.
Radford inbounded to start the fourth quarter in a 45-45 tie, and missed its first shot of the period. By the time the Bobcats attempted another field goal, they trailed by 10. Ryan Gravley rebounded the first Bobcat miss and scored from the lane to start the run, and Cody Keith came up with back-to-back steals leading to a pair of layups.
Two Radford turnovers later, Keith tipped in a missed shot and the Cavaliers (9-0) had reeled of 10 points in 80 seconds, permanently turning the game around.
“We wanted to kind of lull them to sleep and then hit them all at once,” Carroll County coach Brad Hawks said. “We caught them by surprise and were able to get some turnovers and some easy transition points.”
The Cavaliers would hit just one field goal in the final 6:40 – a two-handed dunk in transition by Keith – but sealed the win by sinking 11-of-15 foul shots, 30-of-38 in all.
The lightning start to the fourth quarter was the second phase of a comeback that saw the Cavaliers rally from an 11-point deficit into a tie game in the last 3:12 of the third quarter. Isaiah Phillips scored underneath for a 44-33 Radford lead at the 3:34 mark of the third period but the Cavaliers scored the game’s next 11 points, then stretched the spurt to 21-1 with the fourth-quarter blitz.
Austin Horton completed a three-point play and Gravley scored twice off of his own steals, and a pair of Duncan Reece free throws capped the 11-0 run for a 44-44 deadlock.
Having hit 10 3-pointers in its tournament opener, the Cavaliers attempted just two against Radford but was 30-for-38 from the foul line, including 13-of-14 by Gravley, who finished with 23 points. Gunner Beamer scored 12 while Reece and Horton added 11 apiece. Phillips led Radford (8-2) with 19.
“I’m real proud of the kids for sticking to the game plan,” Hawks said. “We had to dictate the tempo and play the game that we wanted to play. To do that says a lot for the kids and their versatility.”
The win should also garner some measure of respect for a team that received only marginal preseason praise despite returning several key components from a 19-4 squad.
“I think we earned a little respect,” said Hawks. “After not being ranked in Timesland early, not being picked to win the district by either the Roanoke or Bristol paper, I’m hoping this will give the kids some confidence, and get us some respect, to be honest.”
Carroll County......18 10 17 23––68
Radford.................13 16 16 13––58
Carroll County (9-0)
Gravley 5 13-14 23, Smoot 1 1-2 3, Beamer 2 8-11 12, Keith 4 0-0 8, Reece 2 7-9 11, Horton 5 1-2 11. Totals 19 30-38 67.
Cook 2 0-0 5, Miano 1 0-0 3, Finley 3 0-0 7, Jones 1 0-0 2, Little 6 0-0 12, Phillips 6 5-6 19, Facemire 0 1-2 1, Cox 2 0-0 4, Bradley 2 1-2 5. Totals 23 7-10 58.
Three-point field goals – Carroll County 0-2, Radford 5-19 (Phillips 2, Cook, Miano, Finley). Rebounds – Carroll County 20 (Keith 7), Radford 22 (Phillips 6). Turnovers – Carroll County 12, Radford 15. Team fouls – Carroll County 16, Radford 22. Fouled out – none. Technical fouls – Radford bench.