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MAX MEADOWS –– Galax has earned itself another shot at Grayson County.
The third-seeded Maroon Tide, which dropped a pair of regular season decisions to its biggest rival by three and four points this year, will get one last crack at the season champion Blue Devils after knocking out second-seed Graham 35-29 Wednesday at Fort Chiswell High School.
“Our girls are good friends with [Grayson’s] girls, and I’ve known [Blue Devil coach] Tiny [Funk] since I was a young boy, growing up at the rec department,” Galax coach Yerrick Stoneman said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for him. There were some years they weren’t winning many games, and I’m glad for him that they are doing well. We’ll have to match up with McGrady and Shupe, those two are the two who can give us a lot of trouble.”
The troublesome part for Galax (15-8) on Wednesday was finding shots and hitting free throws. After the first semifinal saw Grayson and Fort Chiswell combine for 125 shots from the floor, Galax managed just 32 and Graham 29. The Maroon Tide did make one more field goal in the first half (8) than Graham would hit for the game, but the Tide was just 1-of-9 from the foul line before halftime, helping the G-Girls (13-9) stay within reach.
“She does an excellent job with that matchup zone,” Stoneman said of Graham coach Tracy Raban. “It’s pretty tough to get open shots. We struggled in all three games against them this year.”
The Maroon Tide trailed 10-7 early in the second period before building what would eventually become a 13-point lead. Susan Davis swished a 3-pointer at the 5:18 mark of the second and Holly Cassell hit from the wing with 3:40 left in the half, and Galax would not trail again. Paige Hanks hit a midrange jumper and splashed a 3-pointer two minutes later. Cassell scored off of a Carolyn Vaughan dish just before the half, sending the Maroon Tide into the break with a 19-14 lead.
Galax had three starters with two fouls each by the end of the first period, and Sydney Lindsey was whistled for her third midway through the second quarter. The Maroon Tide would finish the game with four starters on the floor with four fouls each.
“When we get Sydney and Susan in foul trouble is when we seem to struggle,” Stoneman said. “Luckily only Sydney was in trouble early, and we were able to get Lauren Garvey in there to relieve Susan.”
Garvey didn’t figure in the scorebook but provided valuable minutes running the offense.
Starting with Hanks’ trey late in the second, Galax strung together a 14-2 run that would expand the Tide lead to 28-15. Hanks completed a three-point play off of Lindsey’s feed and Vaughan knocked down a 20-footer from the top for the 13-point margin at 4:25 of the third. The Maroon Tide would go the rest of the night without hitting from the floor, but made just enough free throws to keep Graham from having a possession with which to take the lead. Galax went to the foul line six times in the fourth quarter and hit one-of-two every time.
Graham opened the fourth quarter on a 7-1 run, cutting a 29-19 deficit to 30-26 with 2:32 to go, but would get no closer the rest of the way.
Davis led the Maroon Tide with 10 points and Hanks scored nine, with Cassell pulling down seven rebounds. Ashley Moretto’s 10 points led the G-Girls.
Galax..........7 12 10 6––35
Graham......8 6 5 10––29
Davis 2 5-8 10, Ayers 0 0-4 0, Hanks 3 2-3 9, Vaughan 1 1-2 4, Cassell 2 2-6 6, Lindsey 3 0-1 6. Totals 11 10-24 35.
Gallinger 1 4-10 6, Williams 2 3-3 7, Workman 0 0-0 0, Evans 2 2-2 6, Moretto 2 6-10 10. Totals 7 15-25 29.
Three-point field goals – Galax 3-8 (Davis, Ayers, Vaughan), Graham 0-3. Rebounds – Galax 31 (Cassell 7), Graham 31 (three with 5). Turnovers – Galax 17, Graham 19. Team fouls – Galax 21, Graham 20. Fouled out – none. Technical fouls – none.