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INDEPENDENCE -- Sometimes it happens early, sometimes it happens late, but it almost always seems to happen. The big Grayson County run occurred when it was most needed on Friday. Trailing 15-10 late in the first quarter, the Blue Devils scored 15 unanswered points to take command of the game and the Mountain Empire District race with an 81-57 win over Narrows. “We always seem to be able to get a little run going sometime,” said Blue Devil coach Lucas Austin, whose team improved to 14-2 overall, 4-0 in the district and currently holds a two-game lead on the rest of the MED. “Luckily we got it tonight.” A 3-pointer by the Green Wave’s Mark Martin with 1:57 left in the first had the Blue Devils behind 15-10 to a team dangerous enough to have handed Galax a 24-point loss a week earlier. But Narrows didn’t sink another shot from the floor until more than eight minutes had run off the clock, during which time the Blue Devils built a 25-16 advantage thanks to the 15-point rally. A transition basket and then two foul shots by Grayson’s Steven Eller closed the first period and ignited the run, and inside baskets by Mikey Rodgers and Bubba Bowen opened the second period. Not coincidentally, leading scorer Eric Harvey was held to a single point through the first 12 minutes of action. Though the Blue Devils were able to regain the lead without Harvey scoring from the floor, the junior forward made sure the advantage stood, scoring 28 points in the final two and a half quarters of play. A free throw at 5:06 of the second was Harvey’s first point of the night, but he scored three straight baskets to cap the rally and put Grayson ahead 25-15. Narrows (9-6, 2-2) finally broke the dry spell with a foul shot and then another Martin trey with 1:41 left in the half, but Grayson finished the half on an 8-2 run, with a Jake Blizzard tip-in at the buzzer sending the Devils into the break ahead 33-21. Narrows handled Grayson’s pressure fairly well early on but was content to fire away from long range, attempting more than half its shots from behind the arc and connecting on just 4-of-17. That in itself helped open up Grayson’s transition game. “Although we didn’t get a lot of turnovers from our press, [Narrows] was taking a lot of quick shots, and that sped the tempo up for us,” he said. Another Blizzard stickback and a Harvey baseline drive opened the second half, and Grayson County led 37-21 after having outscored the Green Wave 27-6 since the waning moments of the first quarter. Harvey continued to make up for lost time, pouring in 10 points in each of the final two periods. Tyler Rutherford canned 3-pointers on consecutive Grayson possessions, and Harvey converted a Rutherford feed to widen the margin to 20 points, 51-31, at 2:50 of the third. “Tyler shot the ball well, and Eric hit some outside shots,” Austin said. “We’re a real tough team when we’re shooting well outside.” The advantage grew to as large as 24 points when Harvey scored off of a Rodgers lob for a 75-51 lead with just over two minutes left in the game. Harvey finished with 29 points and 11 rebounds, scoring 20 in the second half. Blizzard added 14 points, including 10 on putbacks, and Rutherford also scored 14 to go with nine rebounds. Bowen finished with six points and 10 rebounds as four different Blue Devils had at least eight boards each, leading to a 56-40 rebounding advantage. Martin hit five of the Green Wave’s 11 3-pointers and scored 19 points. Alex Taylor added 12 points and 11 rebounds, and Ryan Dunford chipped in with 11 points. Narrows...................15 6 15 21––57 Grayson County......14 19 24 24––81
Narrows (9-6, 2-2) Martin 7 0-1 19, Lusk 1 0-0 3, Thompson 1 2-2 4, Collins 1 0-0 3, Dunford 4 1-2 11, Green 2 0-0 5, Taylor 6 0-1 12. Totals 22 2-6 57. Grayson County (14-2, 4-0) Rutherford 5 0-1 14, Hill 1 0-0 2, Eller 2 2-2 6, Rodgers 3 0-0 6, Cornett 2 0-0 4, Harvey 12 5-6 29, Bowen 3 0-2 6, Blizzard 7 0-0 14. Totals 35 7-11 81.
Three-point field goals – Narrows 11-32 (Martin 5, Dunford 2, Lusk, Thompson, Collins, Green), Grayson County 4-16 (Rutherford 4). Rebounds – Narrows 40 (Taylor 11), Grayson County 56 (Harvey 11, Bowen 10). Turnovers – Narrows 27, Grayson County 17. Fouled out – Dunford. Technical fouls – none.
JV – Grayson County 56-33.