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BLUEFIELD –– Double overtime was doubly cruel this time around.
Playing two extra sessions for the second time in three games, Grayson County was eliminated one win short of a state tournament berth after a 77-75 loss to Graham in the Region C Division 2 semifinals Friday on the G-Men’s home floor.
Graham (18-7) advanced to Saturday’s championship game to meet Radford (24-2), a 58-51 winner over Glenvar in the first semifinal.
The Blue Devils had lost by a nearly identical score, 77-76, to arch rival Galax in the Mountain Empire District semifinals a week earlier. But that one didn’t end the Blue Devils’ season.
“I’m proud of my boys,” Grayson County coach Lucas Austin said just outside of a deathly-silent Blue Devil locker room. “Graham did a great job and had a great game plan. They got us bogged down a little bit running that zone in the first half. They did a good job switching their defenses back and forth. And they knocked down some tough shots. We weren’t playing bad defense. Most of the shots they made were over the top of a hand.”
Colby Hill hit a pull-up jumper to give Graham a 72-70 lead early in the second overtime, but Grayson County would take its last lead of the night on its next possession. Lucas Rudy hit one of two foul shots, Mikey Rodgers rebounded the missed second shot and Max Rodgers put back a miss for a 73-72 Devil lead with 2:16 to play.
Tony Hood knotted the game for Graham with a free throw 25 seconds later, and Hill made the play of the game with a baseline drive and free throw for a 76-73 lead with 1:10 remaining.
Max Rodgers drove the lane for a bucket and a 76-75 score with 19 seconds left, but Graham was able to escape Grayson’s pressure and play keep-away until Hill was fouled with 3.6 ticks left. After Hill hit the second of two free throws for the final margin, Rudy dribbled up the right sideline and put up a jumper from just inside the 3-point line that missed the mark.
“There at the end [of the second OT] we would liked to have fouled a little sooner, but we still got a decent shot out of it,” Austin said. “I know it was a falling-away shot, but it wasn’t bad for going the length of the floor in 3.8 seconds.”
“It was just a great ballgame,” said Graham coach Glynn Carlock, Jr. “It was a great effort by them. Those guys play hard. We feel we could have closed it out if we had hit our free throws. We had four battles with them this year, the last one just went to us.”
The game had its chances to be over with in regulation but a series of solid looks at the bucket didn’t produce a winning shot for Grayson County.
The Blue Devils led by as many as seven points midway through the first quarter but Graham went 6-of-10 from 3-point range in the first half, leading briefly before going to the half trailing 32-29.
Graham edged into a 47-45 lead entering the fourth quarter, and the final eight minutes featured six ties.
Max Rodgers scored off a Rudy feed to tie the game at 64 with 13 seconds left in the fourth quarter, and Ty Cannaday came up with steal seconds later. Following two Grayson timeouts, Mikey Rodgers’ driving layup in heavy traffic and against ample contact rimmed out, leaving Graham to inbounds under Grayson’s bucket with 2.8 ticks left.
The G-Men could only manage a three-quarter-court pass and a hurried, errant 3-point attempt by Tony Hood.
Graham missed three free throws with a two-point lead in the final minute of the first overtime. With point guard Cannaday having picked up his fifth foul, Mikey Rodgers had the ball at the point, drove to the right and shot from underneath, again while being collapsed upon by the Graham defense. He rebounded his own miss and Grayson called timeout with 1.8 seconds left, trailing 70-68.
“It was physical underneath…,” said Austin, who then elected not to articulate the remainder of his thoughts.
The elder Rodgers took the inbounds pass from the baseline and put up a twisting 6-foot jumper that fell through at the horn, adding another four minutes of free basketball to the evening.
Max Rodgers scored 22 points and hauled in 15 rebounds while Mikey Rodgers had 21 points and 12 boards. Cannaday scored 14 and Rudy tossed in 13 for the Blue Devils.
Hill led all scorers with 28 points for Graham. Roman Workman hit four 3-pointers and scored 16 points, Hood tallied 13 and Spencer Sheets scored 11.
Graham....................13 16 18 17 6 7––77
Grayson County......17 15 13 19 6 5––75
Sheets 5 0-0 11, Hood 4 2-5 13, Workman 4 4-6 16, Proffitt 4 0-1 8, Hawley 0 1-2 1, Hill 10 7-8 28. Totals 27 14-22 77.
Grayson County (18-7)
Frost 2 1-2 5, Cannaday 6 0-0 14, Rudy 6 1-3 13, Mk.Rodgers 9 3-5 21, Mx.Rodgers 10 2-4 22. Totals 33 7-14 75.
Three-point field goals – Graham 9-19 (Workman 4, Hood 3, Sheets, Hill), Grayson County 2-11 (Cannaday 2). Rebounds – Graham 31 (Proffitt 12), Grayson County 46 (Mx.Rodgers 15). Turnovers – Graham 13, Grayson County 11. Team fouls – Graham 14, Grayson County 16. Fouled out – Cannaday. Technical fouls – none.