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MAX MEADOWS –– As a 6-foot-7 post player, Duncan Reece is typically the guy taking feeds from guys like 5-10 point guard Gunnar Beamer, not the other way around. But hey, whatever works, especially if it works against a team that hasn’t taken a loss in 366 days.
Reece’s kick-out from the lane left Beamer with a clear look from the right wing 20 feet out, and the Carroll County point guard calmly flushed it just before the horn sounded to lift the Cavaliers to a 49-46 win over Radford Monday in the championship game of the First Virginia Bank Classic at Fort Chiswell High School.
“Duncan made a great kick-out,” said Brad Hawks, Carroll’s coach. “He could have jacked up a bad shot, worried about the clock, but he chinned the basketball and kicked it right back to Gunnar.”
The loss ended a string of 28 straight Radford wins, dating back to the finals of the same tournament a year earlier when the Bobcats lost to the Cavaliers by 10. Radford then reeled off 20 straight wins en route to last year’s Division 2 state title and entered Monday’s contest 8-0.
Beamer’s bomb ended a scoring drought of more than six minutes by the Cavaliers (7-2), who saw a seven-point lead melt down to nothing over the final 6:29, during which time Carroll went 0-for-4 from the floor, missed the front of two one-and-ones and committed four turnovers as Radford chipped away. The Bobcats finally caught the Cavaliers at 46 on an Isaiah Phillips 3-pointer with 45 seconds left.
Carroll County held for a final shot and Beamer found Reece just below the right elbow, but with his back to the basket and being immediately collapsed upon, Reece flipped back out to Beamer for the game-winner.
“Not something that we necessarily would have drawn up like that, but it was in rhythm and it was the best kind of 3 because it came from the inside out,” said Hawks.
Though Radford picked up the defensive intensity and gamely rallied into a tie from what had been a 12-point second-half hole, the Bobcats can look at the first 16 minutes to find the reason for their demise. Radford managed to sink just five first-half field goals, took only 16 shots in the half, thanks largely to the glasswork of Carroll’s Cody Keith, and only turned the Cavaliers over five times. The Bobcats were outrebounded 24-20 – a symmetrical 12 to 10 in each half – by a Carroll team not accustomed to winning the boards but which did so Monday on the strength of 13 rebounds by Keith.
“I was really pleased with the help we gave underneath because they were one and done,” Hawks said. “We forced them to shoot a quick shot or maybe a little out of rhythm. That was our game plan, to play good solid defense and limit their chances.”
It also helped that the Cavaliers were hitting some shots, going 12-of-22 from the floor in the first two periods. Connor Lundy hit his second 3-pointer and Beamer drove for a pull-up jumper to close the first quarter with Carroll on top 15-11. Lundy finished with 18 points and Beamer added 14 to lead the Cavaliers.
“It’s a good victory for our program,” said Hawks. “I’ve been real discouraged about the way we’ve not been competing. Our first two games of this tournament, and going back to the Galax game, our effort level was terrible. No enthusiasm, no talking on defense.”
If the intensity is not there when playing Radford, most teams end up having their backsides handed to them.
But Carroll’s lead reached double figures on a Blake Dalton trey followed by a Keith cut to the basket early in the second. While Radford went scoreless the final 3:51 of the half, Lundy hit a short jumper and Beamer dropped in a runner off the glass for a three-point play and a 30-18 Carroll lead at the break.
The inevitable Bobcat run came earlier than may have been expected as the Bobcats scored 11 points on their first four possessions of the second half. Phillips hit a 3-pointer from the top then completed a three-point play and Zach Bradley penetrated for a lay-in to trim Carroll’s lead to 32-27 just 90 seconds into the third.
The Cavaliers recovered with another Lundy trey and a stickback by Keith to regain an 11-point lead, 42-31, before taking a 44-35 lead into the fourth.
Nate Jones led Radford with 16 points and Phillips scored 12.
Carroll County......15 15 14 5––49
Radford.................11 7 17 11––46
Carroll County (7-2)
Shinault 1 0-0 2, Beamer 5 3-4 14, Lundy 7 0-2 18, Keith 4 0-2 8, Giles 0 0-1 0, Dalton 2 0-0 5, Reece 1 0-0 2. Totals 20 3-9 49.
Cook 1 0-0 3, Finley 0 2-3 2, Phillips 5 6-7 12, Jones 5 6-8 16, Facemire 1 0-0 2, Wheeler 1 0-0 3, Bradley 1 0-0 2. Totals 14 14-18 46.
Three-point field goals – Carroll County 6-12 (Lundy 4, Beamer, Dalton), Radford 4-13 (Phillips 2, Cook, Wheeler). Rebounds – Carroll County 24 (Keith 13), Radford 20 (Phillips 4). Turnovers – Carroll County 13, Radford 13. Team fouls – Carroll County 17, Radford 15. Fouled out – none. Technical fouls – Radford bench.