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BLUEFIELD –– Galax held Graham under double figures well into the second half and won the Mountain Empire District girls’ tournament championship with 40-27 win over the G-Girls Friday at Graham Middle School.
Making just 8-of-50 shots from the field wasn’t the only factor that cost the G-Girls, said Graham coach Tracy Raban.
“If I point fingers at anything, it is knowledge of the game,” Raban said. “Fundamentally, they just brought it to us. I hate to say it, but they are better fundamentally than us. They know the game and they execute their offense from just knowing the game. ”
Graham lost for a third time this season to Galax, which added the tournament title to its first regular season MED championship since 2001.
Allison White paced Galax (20-4) with 12 points, while Sydney Lindsey came off the bench to score 10. Bailey Shumate, the MED player of the year as announced after the game, added eight.
“This group of seniors has been through a lot,” Galax coach Yerrick Stoneman said. “When they were freshmen losing just about every game and then each year winning more and more. Last year we were 14-14 and went to the state quarterfinals so it is their year. I am hoping we can continue to play well next week.”
Graham had scored 21 points in the fourth quarter of its semifinal win over the Bland County the previous night, but the Maroon Tide led by as much as 21, at 34-13 in third period, and 40-23 with 2:30 left in the game.
Liz Workman led Graham with nine points, while Leah Gillespie added six.
Galax jumped out to a 6-0 lead in less two minutes and didn’t score again until 1:10 left in the opening period, but the G-Girls were 1-14 from the field against the Tide’s man-to-man defense, with Alysia Leung making a layup with 28 seconds left in the first quarter.
Both teams shot blanks in the next period, with the clubs combining to shoot 1-21 from the field. Galax did made seven free throws, while Graham got the lone field goal on a basket by Hannah Stowers to make it 18-8 at the break.
“I think Graham normally does do a good job shooting, I just think they were off tonight,” said Stoneman, who earned MED coach of the year honors.
Galax, whose only MED loss this season came in the surprising loss to Narrows in the regular season finale, was able to regroup and beat Grayson County and the G-Girls on consecutive nights to claim the title.
“The last two games we have not played well...I think a lot of it has to do with our girls having played 50-some game with no rest, and it is starting to wear on them,” Stoneman said. “It is my job as a coach to back down on them a little bit, change things up, make it a little funner, and that is what we did today in practice. We did some different things and it just helped and it came together really well as a team and our intensity level was up to tonight.”
Graham cut the lead to 20-10 when Galax answered with a 14-3 run, sparked by five points from White and four by Lindsey.
Galax was able to beat the G-Girls for a third time this season. Graham had lost 40-29 and 43-36 in the other meetings.
BLUEFIELD DAILY TELEGRAPH
Graham........3 5 10 9––27
Galax..........11 7 16 6––40
Morgan 0 0-0 0, Wilson 0 0-0 0, Leung 2 0-0 4, Repass 0 0-0 0, Workman 2 5-11 9, Lewis 0 3-4 3, Gillespie 2 2-7 6, Stanley 0 0-0 0, Stowers 1 0-0 2, Williams 1 0-0 3, Matthews 0 0-0 0, Cruise 0 0-0 0. Totals 8 10-23 27.
Russell 1 0-1 2, Davis 0 0-1 0, Shumate 2 3-3 8, Ayers 0 1-2 1, White 3 6-10 12, Bryant 1 2-2 5, Reynolds 0 0-0 0, Ha.Cassell 1 0-0 2, Hanks 0 0-0 0, Ho.Cassell 0 0-0 0, Lindsey 3 4-6 10, Mohr 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 16-25 40.
Three-point field goals – Graham 1 (Williams), Galax 2 (Shumate, Bryant). Team fouls – Graham 19, Galax 18. Fouled out – none. Technical fouls – none.