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SALEM –– Deion George picked a fine time to put together his most complete game of the season. Partly for that reason, Galax’s season is not yet completed.
George had 19 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and four steals – all team highs – and two blocks to lead the Maroon Tide past Castlewood 53-44 Friday in the Group A Division 1 quarterfinals at the Salem Civic Center. Galax (25-2) advances to Thursday’s state semifinals at VCU where it will face the winner of the Luray-Charles City quarterfinal, played Saturday.
The Maroon Tide got off to a hot start in each half against Castlewood (19-9), which had mounted comeback after comeback on its way to the state quarters. Not that the Blue Devils didn’t have a rally or two on Friday. The Region D runners-up overcame an 11-point second-quarter deficit to briefly take the lead before halftime, and they cut a 12-point gap in the third period to six points in the fourth before Galax finally sealed the deal, going back up by 10 on an Austin Pack three-point play with 1:02 to go.
“I have 10 guys back, and they have all played and been there,” Galax coach Verl Brown said of his team fighting off the Castlewood rallies. “But still, don’t like it being close and us giving up layups. But right now we’re just thankful to be heading back to Richmond.”
Galax shut Castlewood out for nearly five minutes while scoring the game’s first seven points, and the Tide led 11-1 on two Travis Garvey buckets before the Blue Devils got their first field goal, an Aaron Kennedy three-point play at 1:36 of the first.
Galax led 19-10 on a putback by George before the Blue Devils came to life with a 12-3 run capped by three straight Tyler Austin buckets, the third one giving Castlewood a 22-19 lead.
George ended the spurt with a 3-pointer and his steal set up a Pack layup for a 24-22 Galax lead at the half.
“That’s the first time I came out and played that hard in my life,” said George, who averaged 9.8 points entering Friday. “It came at the right time and if felt good. I’m a senior and this would be my last game if we lost, and I didn’t want that to happen.”
“It was his best game by far,” said Pack, who scored 14 points. “He steps up in big games and that’s what he did today. That’s what we need to finish out the season.”
The five-point surge turned into a game-changing rally early in the second half as the Maroon Tide opened with a 10-3 spurt finished off by a steal and two-hand dunk by Pack. Devonte McKinney’s conversion of a Garvey assist sent Galax into the fourth with a 41-29 lead.
Castlewood made one last run at the defending state champs when Reid Edmonds rattled home a 3-pointer and Trevor Hileman scored from the wing for a 44-38 score with 3:17 to play. McKinney hit a foul shot, George sank two more and Pack’s three-point play ended any hopes of the Blue Devils completing the comeback.
Austin and Kennedy each scored 13 points for Castlewood, which was outrebounded 36-19, including 14-3 on the offensive glass.
“Galax is seasoned and their guys don’t get rattled,” said Castlewood coach Doug Campbell. “We made that run and they had an answer, and that’s the sign of a good team and a champion. They’ve been hunted all year as a defending state champion and they handle it well.”
Castlewood........4 18 7 15––44
Galax................15 9 17 12––53
Edmonds 2 4-6 9, Austin 4 4-4 13, Hileman 2 3-5 8, Kennedy 5 3-3 13, Jessee 0 1-3 1, Jacobs 0 0-0 0, Traverse 0 0-0 0, Addington 0 0-0 0, Trent 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 15-26 44.
Hanks 1 0-0 2, Pack 6 2-4 14, George 6 6-10 19, McKinney 4 1-4 9, Parsons 1 2-4 4, C.Quesenberry 0 0-0 0, Garvey 2 0-0 4, Peoples 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 11-22 53.
Three-point field goals – Castlewood 3-10 (Edmonds, Austin, Hileman), Galax 2-15 (Hanks, George). Rebounds – Castlewood 19 (Jessee 8), Galax 36 (George 12). Assists – Castlewood 5 (Austin 4), Galax 11 (George 5). Turnovers – Castlewood 17, Galax 17. Team fouls – Castlewood 16, Galax 20. Fouled out – Parsons. Technical fouls – none.