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Galax tuned up for its challenge against higher-seeded opposition in the Mountain Empire District varsity girls’ basketball tournament by cruising to a relatively easy 75-37 triumph over rival Grayson County Friday night. A balanced attack for the Maroon Tide was led by sophomore guard Hailey Cassell, who had 14 points including two very timely 3-pointers. Three other players scored in double figures – Jill Bartlett with 12 points and Burgandy Bobbitt and Taylor Bryant with 10 apiece – while six players scored eight points or more. With a young but talented 9-11 team taking the floor in its home gym against a team that had not won a game all season, there were few people in the stands that had any doubt about what the outcome would be. However, Grayson County started strong and it looked as though the game would be fairly competitive after all. It would take an 11-0 run and then a dazzling 17-0 spurt by Galax before the partisans were able to relax. Alyssa Wingate opened the game with a 10-foot jumper and a nifty layup and the Blue Devils had a stunning 4-0 lead after only one minute of play. However, Allison White answered for Galax with a three-point play and Taylor Bryant converted a steal into a short basket and the hosts had their first lead at 5-4. Grayson took its final lead at 6-5 when Kayla Spurlin canned a short jumper. Drew Cardwell put Galax in front to stay on a nice drive. Six more points by the Maroon Tide led them on a run that enabled them to grab a 20-13 lead after one quarter. Cassell for Galax and Kayla Spurlin for Grayson each tallied six points in the first period. Still, Grayson did not give up and was within five points when it was 22-17. Then came the first big Galax run. A trey and then a short jumper, both by Haley Reynolds, and three straight buckets by Bobbitt following Grayson turnovers gave the Tide an 11-0 run and a 16-point lead. Spurlin ended the Blue Devil drought that had lasted more than four minutes with a short bucket from the side. Jessica Caudill later nailed a 3-pointer for Grayson’s final points for quite a while and the first half ended with Galax in front, 37-22. If the visiting Blue Devils had any thoughts of a second half rally, they were dashed by one of the Maroon Tide’s best runs of the year. Scoring the final two points of the first half and the first 15 points of the second, Galax breezed to a 52-22 lead before Catherine Vaughan scored on a drive, a full 5:30 after intermission. Bobbitt, White and Bailey Shumate contributed four points each to the Galax run. After three quarters, it was 59-26, and it was just a matter of closing out the final eight minutes of an impressive triumph. “I didn’t tell the girls anything different than I have been telling them all season,” Galax Coach Jamie Dotson said about the big spurt to start the second half. “I said the game was not over. They needed to continue to play with a lot of intensity.” The coach was pleased with her team’s overall effort, which may have been one of its best of the season. “They were very focused tonight,” she said. “They did not let the pressure of the situation get to them.” Shumate and Cardwell added eight points each to the winning effort while White scored seven despite missing some playing time in the second quarter with an eye injury. White also contributed a great floor game and a fine defensive effort. Spurlin led Grayson County with 14 points while Vaughan and Wingate added eight points each. Still with an outside chance of a winning season, despite having only two seniors, five sophomores and one freshman on its roster, Galax took a 10-11 record into Saturday morning’s district tournament semifinal against Narrows at Fort Chiswell. Grayson County finished 0-17 overall.
Graysonee^County......13 9 4 11––37 Galax......................20 17 22 16––75
Graysonee^County (0-17) Spurlin 14, Wingate 8, Osborne 2,ee^Vaughan 8,ee^Caudill 3, Osborne 2. Galax (10-11) Shumate 8, Russell 2, White 7, Bryant 10,ee^Reynolds 6,ee^Cassell 14, Bobbitt 11, Bartlett 12, Cardwell 8.
Three-point field goals – Graysonee^County 1 (Caudill),ee^Galax 3 (Cassell 2, Reynolds).