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MAX MEADOWS "" Under the bucket and in traffic with a chance to give Galax the win with either a layup or a free throw, Deion George kicked the ball 20 feet outside to Scott Alouf. By going backwards, the Maroon Tide is going forward.
Alouf calmly drilled a 3-pointer at the horn as Galax took a thrilling 56-53 win in the Mountain Empire District semifinals Wednesday at Fort Chiswell High School. The Maroon Tide will face Fort Chiswell, an 89-83 winner over Grayson County, in tonight’s championship game at 6 p.m.
The victory was not unlike the first time Galax and Bland met, resulting in a 52-50 Tide win in January. Just like then, Bland County came out hot and jumped to a quick double-digit lead, and Galax again battled through a tough shooting night to eke out a win.
“I knew Bland would be tough,” said Galax coach Verl Brown, adding that he had picked the Bears in November to win the district. “If they’re hitting, they can play with anybody in the league. We didn’t get many steals out of our press. I don’t know if it’s this time of year and everybody knows it, or what, but we wanted to get the game going fast. We didn’t do a good job rebounding. That was the one thing that hurt us on both ends. But I’ll take a win just to have one.”
Galax trailed 40-30 with less than three minutes left in the third quarter when two Alouf putbacks sparked a 7-2 run, resulting in a 42-37 game entering the fourth. Kyle Adams had a stickback and Justin Hash sank two foul shots as the Tide caught the Bears at 46, and took a 51-48 lead on an Alouf trey and a George bucket inside.
Alouf knocked down two free throws for a 53-48 lead with just 38 seconds to play, but the Bears tied it up with Kris Kennedy’s 3-pointer followed by an Aaron Blankenship putback with 7.3 seconds to play.
Following a timeout, Galax’s inbounds pass was batted away, leaving the Tide 6.6 seconds to go 90 feet. Justin Hash took the inbounds pass, raced to the top of the key and hit George streaking in from the right side. George made the biggest assist of his young career by finding Alouf alone on the wing.
“We set up a play for Scott,” Brown said of the timeout. “We told Justin to penetrate and it wound up going to Deion. He had a shot and kicked it back out, and we were going ‘Oh, no,’ but the worst thing that could have happened was a tie.”
Galax improved to 21-2 on the year by twice battling back from a 10-point deficit. Kennedy’s third 3-pointer of the game gave the Bears a 22-11 lead at 5:27 of the second period when Galax responded with a 13-0 run. Alouf canned two treys in the spurt and Kyle Adams capped it with a layup for a 24-22 lead 1:26 before the half. Kennedy soon hit his fourth 3-pointer of the half and Josh Shrader drove in for two to send Bland to the half leading 27-24.
Hash knocked down a 20-footer as Galax trailed 30-27, but the Bears pulled back out to a 10-point lead with a 10-3 run capped by a Shrader foul shot at 2:57 of the third.
Kennedy would hit six 3-pointers and led all scorers with 20 points. Alouf led three Galax scorers in double figures with 18 points. Hash added 15 and Adams chipped in 12.
Bland County 15 12 15 11""53
Galax 8 16 13 19""56
Bland County (8-15)
Shrader 4 7-8 16, Kr.Kennedy 6 2-2 20, Ky.Kennedy 1 1-2 3, Ko.Kennedy 2 0-0 4, Blankenship 2 0-0 4, Pennington 0 0-0 0, Leighton 3 0-0 6. Totals 18 10-12 53.
Hash 5 2-2 15, Frazier 2 3-4 7, Alouf 6 2-2 18, Houk 0 0-0 0, Adams 5 2-5 12, Martin 0 0-0 0, George 2 0-0 4, Robinson 0 0-0 0, Douglas 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 9-13 56.
Three-point field goals " Bland County 7 (Kr.Kennedy 6, Shrader), Galax 7 (Alouf 4, Hash 3). Team fouls " Bland County 14, Galax 13. Fouled out " none. Technical fouls " none.