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Tide ‘O’ goes silent in finals

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Galax managed two field goals the final 20 minutes and fell to Covington 39-23.

By Craig Worrell, Sports Editor

ELLISTON –– During their careers, the seniors on the Galax girls’ basketball team have played around 100 varsity games. Saturday’s region championship was a one-in-a-hundred kind of day.

Beset by the mother of all cold spells, Galax hit just two field goals after the midpoint of the second quarter and fell to Covington 39-23 in the Region C Division 1 title game at Eastern Montgomery High School.

Both teams advance to the state quarterfinals. Galax (20-5) gets a rematch with last year’s first-round opponent, Region D champion and defending state champ J.I. Burton (18-9), Saturday at 1:45 p.m. at Virginia High.

Covington, a region champ for the first time since winning the Group AA Region III title in 1978, takes on Haysi.

The Maroon Tide took a 16-11 lead early in the second quarter on a Bailey Shumate drive followed by Hailey Cassell’s stickback off of one of her 12 rebounds. Cassell’s shot went through with 4:13 left in the first half. Galax wouldn’t hit another field goal until 6:10 remained in the game, missing 22 straight and finishing the day on a 2-of-35 funk.

“We just went cold as I don’t know what,” said Maroon Tide guard Bailey Shumate. “It was very frustrating. We have never, ever, ever had a moment where we went that cold.”

Galax’s cold snap coincided with Covington’s switch to a 1-3-1 zone early in the second period.

“I just thought we’d change it up a bit,” Cougars coach Mark Pifer said. “I’d like to think our D had a little something to do with it but they just didn’t shoot it very well tonight. I had scouted them twice and I knew they could shoot the basketball, so we were going to stay in that 1-3-1 until they shot us out of it, and good for us that they didn’t.”

Covington took a 20-18 halftime lead by finishing the quarter on a 9-2 run interrupted only by two free throws by Shumate, who finished with nine points. The Cougars blanked the Tide 12-0 in the third period and went ahead 35-18 on a three-point play by Leteashia Clarke early in the fourth before Sydney Lindsey scored on a putback for the Tide.

“I think we were 2 for 26 in the second half,” Galax coach Yerrick Stoneman said. “Give [Covington] credit. They stuck with what was working. It was just one of those nights. You’re going to have them.”

Covington got 17 points and 13 rebounds from Clarke, one of three sophomores on the Cougars’ senior-less starting five.

“I’ve said all year that if Leteashia plays well, we play well, and that was proven tonight,” Pifer said. “She came to play.”

Both Shumate and Stoneman took the game in stride.

“It happened, let’s move on,” said Stoneman of his post-game message to his team. “The good thing is we get to play one more time. Hopefully three more games.”

Said Shumate: “It could have been last night and we wouldn’t even be here tonight. At least we get to move on to the next game.”

 

Covington......11  9  12  7––39

Galax.............10  8    0   5––23

 

Covington (19-8)

Keyser 0 0-0 0, Phillips 0 3-4 3, Moore 2 4-8 9, Woodson 1 2-2 4, Clarke 7 3-5 17, B.Hall 0 0-0 0, M.Hall 0 0-0 0, Tyree 2 2-2 6. Totals 12 14-21 39.

Galax (20-5)

Russell 0 1-2 1, Shumate 3 2-2 9, White 0 0-0 0, Bryant 1 1-2 4, Ha.Cassell 1 1-4 3, Lindsey 3 0-0 6, Hanks 0 0-1 0, Davis 0 0-0 0, Vaughan 0 0-0 0, Reynolds 0 0-0 0, Ayers 0 0-0 0, Ho.Cassell 0 0-0 0. Totals 8 5-11 23.

 

Three-point field goals – Covington 1-4 (Moore), Galax 2-19 (Shumate, Bryant). Rebounds – Covington 48 (Clarke 13), Galax 37 (Ha.Cassell 12). Turnovers – Covington 15, Galax 11. Team fouls – Covington 11, Galax 15. Fouled out – White. Technical fouls – none.