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HILLSVILLE –– That was sooooo worth waiting for.
More than a month after Galax and Carroll County were scheduled to have played each other for the second time, the two teams got together Monday for their first and only meeting this season, swapping the lead an amazing 20 times before the Maroon Tide pulled away for a 49-43 nondistrict win.
With the two teams entering the contest a combined 30-2, the attendance and atmosphere were reminiscent of the rivalry’s heyday back in the late 1970s and early 80s when, if one didn’t arrive sometime around tip-off of the JV game, one stood for the rest of the evening.
“It was championship-like, and it was so good for all these kids,” Carroll County coach Brad Hawks said. “I told our kids before the game, some of them may never get to play in front of a crowd like this again and they need to take advantage of it. If you can’t get fired up for this type of atmosphere, you can’t call yourself a basketball player.”
“You could tell during the JV game,” said Galax coach Verl Brown. “People getting here early, it reminded you of the 70s when both schools had some really good basketball teams. The atmosphere was great.”
The action didn’t disappoint. Other than a five-point Cavalier lead for six whole seconds of the third quarter, neither team led by more than three points the entire night until a 10-0 Galax run late in the game.
Galax scored after a scramble underneath its own bucket, Lawrence Parsons sank two foul shots and Austin Pack cut to the basket twice, converting Devonte McKinney passes into layups. McKinney then hit two free throws for a 47-38 lead with 2:11 left in the game.
Carroll County dictated the pace most of the night, but it was a stone-cold shooting effort in the second half by the Cavaliers that allowed the Maroon Tide to stay undefeated on the season after 16 games.
“We did everything right for three and a half quarters,” Hawks said. “We couldn’t throw it in the ocean in the fourth. It’s hard to beat anybody shooting like that. Galax is a great ball team. They’re not No. 4 in Timesland for no reason. They come out and do what they do.”
The Tide’s 10-0 run came while Carroll County (15-3) was in the midst of a fatal shooting funk in which it connected just once from the floor in the final 10-plus minutes. The Cavaliers’ only field goal during that span was a Connor Lundy 3-pointer with 1:09 to go that cut the lead to 47-41. Ryan Gravley stole the inbounds pass and hit two free throws for a four-point game with 1:03 left but the Cavaliers would not score again.
Carroll County shot just 11 percent (3-of-28) in the second half after hitting 8-of-25 before the break. Galax played straight man defense the entire 32 minutes and the Cavaliers spread the floor, methodically probing the Tide defense.
“We wanted to work for the shot we wanted,” said Hawks. “A few times we shot a little sooner than we should have and we had some uncharacteristic turnovers, but that’s a credit to Galax’s defense.”
“We know that down the road that there’s not going to be a lot of high-scoring games,” Brown said. “These kids have learned how to win the close ones. They’ve been there.”
Devonte McKinney got Galax going with 10 points by the 5:52 mark of the second quarter and scored six in the third, finishing with a game-high 19 points. Pack and Lawrence Parsons added a dozen points each and Parsons gathered 18 rebounds. Wes Smoot’s 14 point led Carroll, which got 12 points from Gravley. Those two were a combined 16-of-19 from the foul line.
Galax.....................9 12 11 17––49
Carroll County......8 16 11 8––43
Hanks 1 0-0 2, Vaughan 0 0-0 0, Pack 5 2-4 12, George 1 2-3 4, Garvey 0 0-0 0, McKinney 8 3-6 19, Parsons 5 2-3 12. Totals 20 9-16 49.
Carroll County (14-3)
Gravley 2 8-9 12, C.Smoot 0 0-0 0, Beamer 0 0-0 0, Lundy 2 0-0 5, Keith 0 0-0 0, Lineberry 1 3-4 6, W.Smoot 3 8-10 14, Horton 3 0-0 6, Holder 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 19-23 43.
Three-point field goals – Galax 0-8, Carroll County 2-16 (Lineberry, Lundy). Rebounds – Galax 41 (Parsons 18), Carroll County 30 (W.Smoot 7). Turnovers – Galax 22, Carroll County 13. Team fouls – Galax 16, Carroll County 12. Fouled out – none. Technical fouls – none.
JV – Carroll County 37-25.