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HILLSVILLE –– Carroll County put the finishing touches on one of the most remarkable regular seasons in school history and capped a second straight Southwest District championship Friday with an 85-55 dismantling of Tazewell.
The Cavalier senior class was honored beforehand, then commenced to win its 40th ballgame in two years, wrapping up a perfect run through the SWD for a second year in a row.
After a subpar showing in a three-point win Tuesday at Marion, Carroll finished with wins on consecutive nights by a combined 68 points.
“I wasn’t happy at all after Marion, but this was a totally different team that showed up tonight,” Cavalier coach Brad Hawks said. “I don’t know if it was senior night, the home crowd or whatever, but the good thing is we play the district tournament here and the region, so going into the post-season, it was a good way to go out.”
It took the Cavaliers (21-1 overall, 8-0 SWD) what seemed like forever to put points on the board, but once they did, the points came in droves.
After more than three scoreless minutes, Carroll County jumped on the Bulldogs with a 17-5 run that included 13 unanswered points in one stretch to take an 18-11 lead. Austin Horton had perhaps his best offensive outing of the year in the first quarter alone, repeatedly scoring on strong post moves underneath to power the Cavalier run.
“That’s the best I’ve ever seen the kid play,” Hawks said. “He wanted the ball, he knew what he was going to do before he caught it and he executed it with strength and footwork. He picked a dang good time to do it.”
The 6-foot-4 senior scored nine points in a span of less than four minutes in the first period with a jump-hook, a putback and a pair of spin moves against Tazewell center Noah Walker. Connor Lundy added six first-period points as the two accounted for all seven of the Cavaliers’ field goals in the opening eight minutes.
Ryan Gravley took over in the second quarter with 11 points, eight of which came in the final 2:05 of the half. The Cavaliers had misfired on their first 11 3-point attempts before the reigning district player of the year knocked down a pair of treys, including one just before the half to send the Cavaliers into the locker room with a 43-28 lead.
Tazewell was still fairly close, trailing by 13 early in the second half, but Lundy, a junior guard, dropped in seven points in the period to help the Cavaliers pull out to a 13-point lead. His 3-pointer at the 4:07 mark of the third widened the gap to 52-33, and Duncan Reece added a strong drive for a three-point play for a 60-37 gap with 1:36 left in the quarter.
Cody Keith and Tyler Lineberry shouldered the load in the final eight minutes, each accounting for eight points and five rebounds. Keith scored eight of Carroll County’s first nine points in the fourth period, including a three-point play off of a Horton dish for a 71-42 lead with 4:50 to go. Lineberry picked up from there with eight straight points, including a pair of putbacks that capped a strong night by the Cavaliers on the offensive glass.
“That was definitely the best offensive rebounding performance we’ve put forth all year,” Hawks said. “That’s unusual, because we hadn’t done it all year. And it was against the best rebounder in the district, by far, in the Walker kid. Our kids stepped up to the challenge, they boxed out and rebounded extremely well.”
Gravley led all scorers with 19 points, Lundy tossed in 16 while Keith and Horton added 11 apiece. Chris Smoot came up with five steals as the Cavaliers harassed the Bulldogs into 30 turnovers.
Walker led Tazewell with 17 points and eight boards, Jalen Jordan scored 13 and Colin Hancock added 10 points.
Tazewell................11 17 11 16––55
Carroll County......18 25 19 23––85
Tazewell (8-14, 2-6)
Lewis 1 0-0 2, Hancock 4 0-0 10, Ju.Jordan 0 1-4 1, Santana 3 0-0 6, Ja.Jordan 4 5-10 13, Mountain 3 0-0 6, Walker 7 3-6 17. Totals 22 9-20 55
Carroll County (21-1, 8-0)
Gravley 5 6-9 19, Smoot 3 0-0 6, Beamer 1 0-0 2, Case 1 1-2 3, Lundy 7 1-1 16, Keith 4 3-7 11, Lineberry 3 2-2 8, Reece 2 2-3 6, Horton 5 1-3 11, Hayton 1 0-0 3. Totals 32 16-27 85.
Three-point field goals – Tazewell 2-13 (Hancock 2), Carroll County 5-26 (Gravley 3, Lundy, Hayton). Rebounds – Tazewell 34 (Walker 8), Carroll County 40 (Keith 9). Turnovers – Tazewell 30, Carroll County 13. Team fouls – Tazewell 20, Carroll County 18. Fouled out – none. Technical fouls – Lewis.
JV – Carroll County 38-23.