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Galax pummells Bath, 73-44

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The Maroon Tide led by as many as 42 points in earning a second straight state tournament berth.

By Craig Worrell, Sports Editor

MAX MEADOWS -- Galax has lived dangerously as of late, trailing by 10 points or more in the second half of two of its past three games, and entering the fourth quarter in a virtual tie Monday against the No. 8 seed in the eight-team regional tournament.

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No fourth-quarter dramatics were necessary Wednesday.

Galax dominated Bath County 73-44 in the Region C Division 1 semifinals, sending the Maroon Tide into tonight’s title game against Eastern Montgomery and, more importantly, into the state tournament for a second straight year.

“The last four games we’ve been flat, and I thought we came out with some intensity,” Galax coach Verl Brown said. “We told the seniors that this could be their last ballgame. They can’t look forward to Friday night, so go out and jump on them early and let things take care of themselves.”

The Maroon Tide (24-2) canned eight 3-pointers in the first half and scorched the Chargers (11-13) through three quarters, building up a 43-point lead before emptying the bench in the final eight minutes and being outscored 17-3 in the fourth.

Galax led 9-5 midway through the first quarter when it went absolutely nuts offensively, scoring 40 points in a little more than 11 minutes. Scott Alouf began the run with a 3-pointer, but the first half belonged largely to freshman point guard Justin Hash, who popped five 3-pointers and assisted on a few highlight-reel layups before intermission. Hash knocked down a trey and then threaded a pass to fellow freshman Deion George for a layup as Galax took a 19-5 lead after one quarter.

Hash added three more treys in the first 5:30 of the second quarter, the third one putting Galax up by 21 points, 34-13 and serving as the spark for a 18-4 run to close the half. Six different Maroon Tide players scored in the rally, which ended with a Bryan Martin putback just before the halftime buzzer for a 49-17 Galax lead.

The halftime break did little to cool the collective hot hand of the Maroon Tide, which hit seven of its 12 attempts from the floor in the third. Alouf scored from underneath and completed a three-point play moments later, and Cameron Frazier’s runner put Galax up by 35 with 6:36 left in the third. A pair of George foul shots widened the gap to 40 points late in the third and Galax took a 70-27 lead into the fourth.

Bath County, which was playing without Pioneer District player of the year Gates Herscher, who rolled an ankle in Monday’s quarterfinal win over Bland County, held the Maroon Tide bench to one field goal in the final eight minutes and closed with a 17-3 run.

“This is the third time I’ve played against them, and the thing I hate is that they had their No. 1 player out,” Brown said. “He was a player of the year, and that has to hurt any team. Our goal was to come out and put pressure on them, more so when I found out that he wasn’t playing. We trapped a little better at halfcourt and forced some turnovers, and that’s our goal, to force some turnovers, because we are at our best when we score off our defense.”

Galax ended a 36-year drought in the state’s final four with last year’s trip to the semifinals, and though tonight’s region title game is foremost on Brown’s mind, the Tide is in position to make back-to-back visits to Richmond with a win in next week’s state quarterfinals.

“Losing eight ballplayers, I would have never dreamed that we would be going this far this year,” Brown said. “Maybe in another year, but not this year. My hat’s off to the guys.”

Hash led four Tide players in double figures with 19 points. George tossed in 14 while Frazier and Alouf added 13 apiece. Eric Gentry’s 17 points were high for the Chargers.

Bath County 5 12 10 17––44

Galax 19 30 21 3––73

Bath County (11-13)

Fry 0 1-2 1, Chestnut 2 1-1 5, Gentry 5 5-5 17, Jake Ingram 2 3-4 7, R.Newmarker 1 0-0 3, Ailstock 1 0-0 2, R.Ryder 1 0-0 2, W.Ryder 2 0-0 5, Jared Ingram 0 0-0 0, A.Newmarker 0 0-0 0, D.Newmarker 1 0-0 2. Totals 15 10-12 44.

Galax (24-2)

Hash 6 2-2 19, Frazier 5 2-4 13, Alouf 5 1-1 13, Houk 0 0-0 0, Adams 2 1-1 5, Cardwell 0 0-0 0, Martin 1 0-0 2, George 5 4-5 14, Schaeffer 0 0-0 0, Anderson 0 1-2 1, Snyder 0 0-2 0, Douglas 2 0-0 4, Harris 1 0-0 2. Totals 27 11-17 73.

Three-point field goals – Bath County 4 (Gentry 2, W.Ryder, R.Newmarker), Galax 8 (Hash 5, Alouf 2, Frazier). Team fouls – Bath County 14, Galax 14. Fouled out – none.