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Having just watched her team squeak past Grayson County, Galax coach Jamie Dotson had precious few positive things to say about the night. Among them, her girls hit some key free throws, and they were disappointed in themselves.
Add to that the fact they did move on to the next round.
In a perfect example of surviving and advancing, the fourth-seeded Maroon Tide fought off a spirited effort by No. 5 Grayson County and advanced to the Mountain Empire District semifinals, holding off the Blue Devils 45-34 in a play-in game Monday night.
Galax faced season champion Fort Chiswell on the Pioneers’ home court Tuesday, with the winner facing the winner of the other semifinal between Narrows and Bland County (see tournament schedule in Scoreboard).
Grayson County (1-22) outscored the Maroon Tide in the first, third and fourth quarters combined, but Galax closed the first half with a 14-2 run that was the difference in the ballgame.
“I’m very disappointed in the way they played, being tournament time,” Dotson said. “Coming off a big win against Bland and playing like that, I’m not happy. But you’ve got to give a lot of credit to Grayson. They played much harder, they had the will to win, and I really don’t understand how we pulled it out.”
Grayson County led 11-9 at 5:51 of the second, but managed just two points the rest of the half. Bailey Shumate’s 3-pointer off an inbounds play gave Galax the lead for good. She and fellow freshman Channing Russell turned steals into layups on Grayson’s next two possessions, and Burgundy Bobbitt finished a fast break for a 19-11 lead before the Blue Devils scored on a Kayla Spurlin baseline jumper 1:18 before the half.
Jamie Webb’s bucket underneath and Kemberlea Simmons’ two free throws sent Galax into the half with a 23-13 lead.
“That probably was my fault,” Grayson County coach Tiny Funk said. “I probably should have used another timeout to try to get us settled down. We were throwing the ball to the right spot, we were just a second late or a little bit wide.”
Galax took its largest lead of the night, 29-14, on a pair of Allison White foul shots 3:25 into the second half but was outscored 20-16 the final 13:35. Leah Hall’s inside basket sparked a 7-0 run as Grayson trimmed the gap to 29-21 early in the fourth, and the lead remained just eight points, 37-29, after Catherine Vaughan’s layup with 4:41 to go.
“A Monday, maybe,” Dotson said, looking for an explanation. “We haven’t played since last Tuesday. And it looked like it. The last time we had a week off, we looked the same way.”
The Blue Devils shot just 28 percent in the half (23 percent for the game) and could get no closer than eight the rest of the way.
“They do a good job of what they do,” said Funk. “They play good defense. It’s not all us just missing shots.”
Galax hit eight of its first 10 free throws in the second half to help hold off the Devils. Dotson was glad to see that, as well as the disappointment in the post-game locker room.
“They don’t shrug it off when they play bad,” she said. “They know they’re better than that, and they get upset with themselves. And that’s the only thing I can compliment them on tonight. They’re not happy.”
Hall finished her career with a bang, blocking five shots to go with a double-double of 13 points and 14 rebounds. Shumate and White paced Galax with 13 points apiece, and Webb grabbed nine boards.
Grayson County 7 6 9 14––34
Galax 7 16 6 16––45
Grayson County (1-23)
Halsey 0 0-2 0, Spurlin 4 2-4 11, Wingate 1 3-10 5, Hall 4 5-8 13, Osborne 0 1-4 1, Vaughan 1 0-0 2, Caudill 1 0-0 2, Johnson 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 11-28 34.
Shumate 5 1-4 13, Russell 2 3-4 7, White 4 5-6 13, Webb 3 1-2 7, Simmons 0 2-4 2, Bryant 0 0-0 0, Bobbitt 1 1-2 3, Bartlett 0 0-0 0, Cardwell 0 0-0 0, Cassell 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 13-22 45.
Three-point field goals – Grayson County 1-6 (Spurlin), Galax 2-4 (Shumate 2). Rebounds – Grayson County 49 (Hall 14), Galax 38 (Webb 9). Turnovers – Grayson County 29, Galax 21. Steals – Grayson County 10, Galax 17. Team fouls – Grayson County 21, Galax 23. Fouled out – Halsey, Vaughan, Caudill, Bobbitt. Technical fouls – none.