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MAX MEADOWS –– Galax needed to do everything right for 32 minutes to knock off regular season champion Grayson County in the Mountain Empire District semifinals, and the Maroon Tide did just that for all but the final two.
The Tide made the most of a couple of extra chances to re-do those final 120 seconds.
Galax won its fourth straight game after starting the season 2-15 and kept its season alive with a 77-76 win Thursday over Grayson County in a thriller that needed two overtimes to decide.
The fifth-seeded Maroon Tide advanced to Friday’s championship game against No. 3 Fort Chiswell, which hammered season runner-up Graham 62-43 in Thursday’s second semifinal.
Grayson County (17-5) held a 76-74 lead after Mikey Rodgers hit one of two free throws with 31 seconds left in the second overtime. A missed 3-point attempt by Galax was chased down by the Tide’s Keyshawn Brown, and Galax called timeout with 10.7 seconds to set up its final shot.
Point guard Chandler Quesenberry picked up his dribble as the Blue Devils’ Lucas Rudy clung to him like a soggy t-shirt and, after pivoting twice to try to find an open teammate, Quesenberry spun and flung up a desperation trey just before the buzzer sounded. Quesenberry’s shot caught the back of the rim and flushed straight through.
The 3-pointer was the seventh of the game for Quesenberry, and the Maroon Tide knocked down 11-of-23 as a team after hitting just 23 percent of its treys on the season.
Each team appeared to be headed to victory during the late stages of regulation, starting with Galax’s 59-53 lead with less than five minutes to go. Grayson County roared back into the lead with a 10-0 run, starting with six straight free throws. Landon Frost hit four straight from the line, and his touch pass to Max Rodgers led to a layup and a 61-59 Grayson lead. Ty Cannaday hit two foul shots with 59 seconds left, but Brown sank one of two, the Devils missed two free throws on the other end and Quesenberry hit a 3-pointer from the top with 12 seconds remaining, knotting the score at 63.
Grayson County had two good looks at the bucket both at the end of regulation and overtime, missing a mid-range jumper and a putback attempt both times.
After Galax overcame an eight-point Grayson lead in the first half, the two teams were nip and tuck until the Tide built its six-point lead in the fourth. Galax had gone just 7-of-49 from behind the 3-point line in two regular season losses to the Blue Devils but hit eight of its first 14 Thursday. That, the Tide’s ability to slow the tempo and its outworking of Grayson on the boards were three key facets to the upset.
An acrobatic layup for a three-point play by Cannaday was followed by a steal and layup by Lucas Rudy that spotted the Blue Devils a 15-7 first-quarter lead. Galax began putting points up in threes in the second, starting with a layup and free throw by Dominic DiGiacomo. He and Steven Peoples both hit from long range later in the second to pull Galax to within 35-32 by halftime.
Quesenberry hit three 3-pointers in the third quarter, the last of which put Galax on top 42-41, its first lead since two minutes into the game.
Darian Brown scored on a stickback and closed the third quarter with a three-point play as Galax entered the fourth leading 50-46. Pack hit from underneath and Quesenberry scored in transition for a 59-53 Tide lead with 4:49 left before Grayson mounted its comeback.
Quesenberry led all scorers with 16 points. DiGiacomo scored 14 and Pack tossed in 12. Max Rodgers led Grayson County with 24 points. Cannaday had 15, Mikey Rodgers scored 13 and Rudy added 11 for the Devils.
Galax................12 20 18 13 6 8––77
Grayson Co.......18 17 11 17 6 7––76
K.Brown 1 1-2 4, Pack 6 0-0 12, D.Brown 3 3-5 9, Peoples 3 0-0 7, Merdian 1 0-1 3, Quesenberry 9 1-1 26, Garvey 1 0-0 2, DiGiacomo 6 1-1 14. Totals 30 6-10 77.
Grayson County (17-6)
Frost 0 5-6 5, Cannaday 5 4-5 15, Rudy 5 1-2 11, Mk.Rodgers 4 5-8 13, Mx.Rodgers 8 7-10 24, Wyatt 1 0-0 2, Circle 3 0-0 6. Totals 26 22-31 76.
Three-point field goals – Galax 11-23 (Quesenberry 7, K.Brown, Peoples, DiGiacomo), Grayson County 2-7 (Cannaday, Mx.Rodgers). Rebounds – Galax 32 (Pack 8), Grayson County 30 (Mk.Rodgers, Wyatt 6). Turnovers – Galax 19, Grayson County 10. Team fouls – Galax 25, Grayson County 12. Fouled out – Garvey. Technical fouls – none.