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MAX MEADOWS — With 1.2 seconds remaining on the clock Friday night Galax’s Cameron Frazier sealed the deal earning the Maroon Tide a 78-73 Mountain Empire District Tournament championship win over Fort Chiswell to go along with its regular season MED title.
Rewind to half time of the championship game Friday night and it appeared Fort Chiswell (9-14) had Galax’s number. The Tide (22-2) struggled early and trailed 43-31 at the end of the first 16 minutes — proving regular season records mean nothing come tournament time.
The Pioneers opened strong and took advantage of Galax’s mistakes.
At the end of the first eight minutes, Fort Chiswell led 22-18.
The Pioneers worked over the Tide in the second quarter, outscoring them 21-13 — including a 10-0 run between 6:33 and 4:07.
Galax turned the ball over on three straight possessions during that run, twice allowing the Pioneers’ Storm Bond to just about walk to the basket.
Heading into the half, Galax trailed 43-31 and it appeared the regular season champs had underestimated their counterparts.
Fort Chiswell wasted no time scoring early in the third quarter when Cody Poole dropped a long 2-pointer over two Tide defenders to stretch the lead to 14 (the largest of the night).
Galax’s Justin Hash responded and the “tide” began to shift.
After a Fort Chiswell turnover, Frazier was fouled as he drove into the basket and went to the line shooting two. He sunk both shots and the Tide pulled within 10 at the 6:21 mark in the third quarter.
Another missed shot by the Pioneers and Galax’s Hash found Alouf wide open just beyond the arc. Alouf nailed his second trey of the evening and the Galax crowd came to life.
On the ensuing possession, the Pioneers again came up short and this time Alouf found Hash wide open beyond the arc. The nothing but net 3-pointer pulled the Tide within four points at the 5:14 mark of the third quarter.
This time, Hash came up with a steal and drove into the basket to pull within two with 4:52 remaining in the third.
The Pioneers again failed to connect on their next possession and fouled Frazier as he drove to the basket. Going to the line shooting two, Frazier missed the first, but sunk the second to pull Galax within one point.
The free throw capped a 13-2 run over the first 4:07 of the third quarter and pulled the Tide back within reach.
After trading possessions — and points — Galax took the lead for the first time since the 7:50 mark of the first quarter when Frazier made a beautiful pass inside to Kyle Adams who then dropped in the bucket.
The 48-47 lead was short lived as the Pioneers quickly responded on a crazy shot from Hody Viars to put Fort Chiswell back up by one with 1:40 left in the third quarter.
After trading the lead back and forth, the teams found themselves just where they began 24 minutes earlier — tied, this time at 53 with eight minutes to go.
Fort Chiswell opened the final eight minutes up with a quick 4-0 run, before the Tide came barreling back. Back-to-back treys by Alouf got the Tide re-energized and Galax led 62-58 with 5:27 left in the game.
A blocked shot by Adams — one of four crucial swats late in the game — led to an easy layup for Galax’s Deion George and Fort Chiswell was forced to burn a timeout in hopes of regaining its composure.
The crowd became electric as the Tide pulled back ahead by six with 4:51 remaining in the game.
Fort Chiswell refused to go away, however and came out of the timeout with a 9-3 run to pull within two at the 1:44 mark.
Two possessions later and the Tide led 76-73 with 13 ticks left on the clock.
Galax’s Frazier had a chance to stretch the lead to a two-possession game as he went to the line shooting two. Frazier missed both shots and the Pioneers’ hopes lived on.
Fort Chiswell quickly moved down the court, but Jacob Henley’s three-pointer with 3.1 seconds on the clock found nothing but air — and the Galax students let him know.
On the inbound, Frazier was fouled and went to the line with 1.2 seconds remaining. After sinking the first of two free throws, the Galax students began chanting the infamous: “Hey… Hey… Hey… Good Bye!”
Frazier sunk the second and the Tide pulled out the championship win by a final score of 78-73.
The Tide was led in scoring by Hash with 27, Frazier with 18 and Alouf with 17.
Fort Chiswell 22 21 10 20––73
Galax 18 13 22 25––78
Fort Chiswell (9-14)
White 20, Viars 19, Akers 11, Dunford 9, Bond 4, Mabe 4, Henley 2, Poole 2.
Hash 27, Frazier 18, Alouf 17, Adams 12, George 2, Martin 2.
Three-point field goals – Fort Chiswell 1 (Dunford), Galax 9 (Hash 5, Alouf 4).