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Fort Chiswell spoils Grayson’s festivities, 86-68

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The Pioneers used a third-period surge to pull away on the Blue Devils’ new Thomas Owens Court.

By Craig Worrell, Sports Editor

INDEPENDENCE –– Fort Chiswell spoiled a lot more than the first official game on the newly-dedicated Thomas Owens Court.

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In a game in which Grayson County hoped to cap a night honoring their former coach by taking another step toward a possible district title, Fort Chiswell caught fire in the second half and rallied to an 86-68 Mountain Empire District win.

The Blue Devils (14-7 overall, 4-3 district) had hoped to get past Fort Chiswell (8-10, 4-2) on Thursday and then root for the Pioneers against Galax on Friday, as a Fort victory against the Maroon Tide would have left Grayson and Galax tied atop the district standings. Instead, the Blue Devils fell to third in the league while Galax took care of business a day later against Fort Chiswell.

The Devils were holding up their end of the bargain well enough, leading 41-34 on Eric Harvey’s stickback with 4:45 left in the third quarter. But after missing five of their first six shots in the second half, the Pioneers would hit 11 of their next 13 to leave Grayson standing in the dust. A furious finish to the third quarter saw Fort Chiswell explode with a 22-2 run in the final four minutes. The scoring binge hit high gear in the final 1:35 of the third when Zack Cook completed a three-point play. Tyler Akers ripped a 3-pointer, Cody Poole added one the next trip down the floor and Akers ended the period with another trey for a 60-45 lead entering the fourth.

Fort Chiswell went 19-for-24 from the floor (79.2 percent) during one 5-minute, 22-second stretch of the second half and led by as many as 21 points, 76-55, less than eight minutes after having trailed by seven.

Grayson’s Tyler Rutherford finally cooled the Pioneer run with 3-pointers on three straight trips down the floor.

A typical Grayson-Fort Chiswell slugfest was shaping up throughout the first half, and the Pioneers pulled ahead 30-21 when Akers hit a 3-pointer 4:25 before the half. The Blue Devils ended the half with a 16-2 run, though, as Rutherford hit a long 3-pointer, Harvey’s save of a wayward pass led to a Jake Blizzard layup and Steven Eller knocked down a trey and later tied the game at 32 with a free throw.

Grayson County attempted nearly twice as many shots from the floor, 46-24, as the Pioneers in the first half, and hit enough free throws at the end of the half to head into the break with a 37-32 lead.

Akers and Cook each scored 21 points to pace Fort Chiswell, which shot 55 percent from the floor (31 of 56). White added 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Harvey led Grayson County with 20 points and 14 boards, while Rutherford chipped in 12 points.

Fort Chiswell 19 13 28 25––86

Grayson County 15 22 8 23––68

Fort Chiswell (8-10, 4-2)

Poole 2 0-3 6, Bond 0 4-8 4, Viars 3 0-0 6, Cook 8 5-5 21, White 7 2-2 16, Dunford 3 3-4 9, Patton 0 0-0 0, Mabe 1 1-4 3, Rodriguez 0 0-0 0, Henley 0 0-0 0, Akers 7 4-6 21. Totals 31 19-32 86.

Grayson County (14-7, 4-3)

Rutherford 4 0-2 12, P.Bowen 2 3-4 7, Harvey 8 4-4 20, B.Bowen 2 0-2 4, Blizzard 5 0-2 10, Hill 0 0-0 0, Hernandez 1 2-2 4, Eller 2 2-4 7, Whitt 2 0-0 4, Williams 0 0-0 0, Deboard 0 0-0 0, Johnson 0 0-0 0. Totals 26 11-20 68.

Three-point field goals – Fort Chiswell 5-13 (Akers 3, Poole 2), Grayson County 5-24 (Rutherford 4, Eller). Rebounds – Fort Chiswell 47 (White 11), Grayson County 51 (Harvey 14). Turnovers – Fort Chiswell 23, Grayson County 18. Steals – Fort Chiswell 8, Grayson County 8. Team fouls – Fort Chiswell 22, Grayson County 25. Fouled out – B.Bowen, P.Bowen. Technical fouls – P.Bowen.

JV – Fort Chiswell 51-40.