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INDEPENDENCE –– Whichever team survived overtime, neither Grayson County nor Graham was going to be able to call its Region C Division 2 girls’ quarterfinal win a thing of beauty. But this time of year, just getting to the next round is the objective, and adequacy will trump splendor every time.
“Survive and advance,” Blue Devil coach Tiny Funk said. “[Former Grayson football coach] Bill Strong told me the other day, he said, ‘You can win ugly, or lose pretty. Which would you rather do?’ ”
Grayson County did just enough things right to get to overtime, then scored the first seven points of the extra session and ended Graham’s season with a 36-31 decision Tuesday on Thomas Owens Court.
The second-seeded Blue Devils (20-5) advance to Thursday’s semifinal against PH-Glade Spring, a 47-44 winner over Glenvar.
No. 7 Graham’s season ends at 13-10.
The two teams combined to shoot barely 23 percent from the floor for the game, and neither hit a field goal for the first 6:49 of the second half. Asked whether it was good defense or bad offense, Funk answered, “Yes.”
“They play a type of defense that causes us trouble,” said Funk, who started four sophomores and a junior. “They’re physical, they use their bodies well, and they are well, well-coached. And we were nervous. I can understand that, because I was nervous.”
Graham trailed for just three minutes and 53 seconds in regulation and was never behind in the second half until Autumn Halsey cut to the bucket and opened overtime by converting an Emily Hart feed for a 31-29 lead, the Blue Devils’ first since the late stages of the first half.
“I felt pretty good,” Funk said of going to overtime. “The girls had found some things that had given us some pretty good looks. In overtime we were able to make some plays.”
Halsey’s bucket provided the first of seven straight points by Grayson to open the extra session. With Graham forced into a man-to-man defense, Madison Shupe later found herself near the jump circle in a favorable matchup, and her teammates cleared out for a one-on-one drive resulting in a three-point play. Meredith Frost later hit two foul shots for a 36-29 lead before Graham scored its only points of the extra session, a driving layup by Emaleigh Gallinger with eight seconds left.
With her team having taken a 15-point win in Independence two weeks ago to close the regular season, Graham coach Tracy Raban was fine with the first-round matchup despite being a seven-seed going against a two-seed.
“I liked the matchup coming in because at this point in the season you usually get teams you don’t know much about,” Raban said. “It was pretty easy to prepare, we knew what to expect, and I thought the kids executed the game plan. We just had mental breakdowns here and there that effected us.”
The G-Girls were in control for most of regulation after taking their first lead three minutes into the game on Bethany Evans’ bucket underneath.
Grayson County missed 14 of its first 15 shots from the floor before stringing together a 10-0 run capped by back-to-back steals for layups by Camryn McGrady, the latter of which had the Devils in front 13-10.
“We got the ball where we needed to, and we got good shots most of the night,” Funk said. “We ran our offense. But defensively we did do a good job. We had some breakdowns on the glass and gave them some second shots, and we couldn’t do that against them.”
Going scoreless for more than eight minutes, Graham answered with seven straight points to take a 17-15 halftime lead.
“We struggled all year shooting the ball, but I was pleased to see that our defense did come tonight,” said Raban. “Hopefully our defense affected their shooting. Not taking anything away from their defense but we struggled shooting all year – getting good looks at the basket and not finishing when we needed to – but it’s been that way all year long and we ran out of gas at the end.”
The two teams combined for eight points in the third and went to the fourth knotted at 20-20. Erin Wilson sank two foul shots for a 27-24 Graham lead with 1:16 to play but Frost converted a huge three-point play on the other end, bringing Grayson even at 27 with 1:04 to go.
Wilson’s bucket with 46 seconds left was answered by a midrange jumper by McGrady with 27 ticks to go. Graham had a chance to win it in regulation but was unable to cleanly inbound the ball under its own bucket with five seconds remaining.
“We had some crucial turnovers,” Raban said. “We had a three-point lead with 47 seconds left and I felt pretty confident with it, we didn’t stay focused and use our basketball sense when it came down to it. We had turnovers that led to baskets for them, and that really hurt us.”
Evans would lead the G-Girls with 11 points and shared rebounding honors with Karly Morgan with nine apiece. Shupe paced Grayson with 13 points. She and McGrady pulled down eight boards apiece.
Graham..................10 7 3 9 2––31
Grayson County......5 10 5 9 7––36
Morgan 2 0-0 4, Wilson 1 3-4 5, Gallinger 1 2-2 4, Williams 1 2-2 5, Evans 5 1-2 11, Rasnake 0 0-1 0, Moretto 1 0-0 2. Totals 11 8-11 31.
Grayson County (20-5)
Frost 1 4-5 6, Halsey 3 2-4 8, McGrady 3 1-5 7, Hart 1 0-0 2, Shupe 5 3-4 13. Totals 13 10-18 36.
Three-point field goals – Graham 1-5 (Williams), Grayson County 0-5. Rebounds – Graham 46 (Morgan, Evans 9), Grayson County 37 (McGrady, Shupe 8). Turnovers – Graham 19, Grayson County 13. Team fouls – Graham 17, Grayson County 10. Fouled out – Evans. Technical fouls – none.