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WYTHEVILLE –– Baseball season is still a couple of months away, but Galax could use a closer right about now.
For the second straight game the Maroon Tide found itself either tied or in the lead in the fourth quarter only to come up well short of its second win of the year, falling to George Wythe 60-49 in a nondistrict game Monday night.
“I see improvement, and as a coach that’s what I’m looking for from my guys,” said Galax coach Verl Brown. “They play hard, and some way we’ve got to figure out how to close, how to win at the end. I just want them to keep working hard.”
Galax dropped its seventh straight in falling to 1-12 on the year. George Wythe won for the seventh time in its last nine outings after an 0-5 start.
“They’re coming along,” Brown said of the Maroons, who like his own team a year ago played in the state football championship game. “They’re starting to get their legs under them. Early on we ran them and you could see them getting tired, but they got a break at halftime and [Wythe coach Joey Russell] did a good job subbing his players in the second half. They executed, and once again we got a little rattled and threw some passes away.”
Dominic DiGiacomo’s 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter tied the score at 40, and Steven Peoples had a putback at the 5:42 mark to keep Galax within a point, 43-42. The Maroons slammed the door at that point, outscoring Galax 17-7 the rest of the way.
George Wythe did most of its damage at the foul line in the fourth quarter, hitting 14-of-20 in the period. Marcus Hash hit the front end of a one-and-one with 5:02 to play and zipped down the lane to put back his missed second shot to spark the Maroons to a 49-42 lead.
Galax got back to within three points on a Caleb Pack bucket and two DiGiacomo foul shots but would get no closer as George Wythe hit 9-of-12 free throws in the final 2:32.
Peoples got the Maroon Tide off to a hot start, scoring 11 points in a little more than eight minutes. His 3-pointer a minute into the second period was followed by a cut to the lane by Darian Brown, whose bucket had Galax leading by 10 points, 20-10.
George Wythe started scoring by threes, converting either an and-one or a 3-pointer on five of its next seven possessions. Isaac Baltazar hit treys on consecutive possessions and Hash turned a steal into a thunderous two-handed jam as the Maroons zoomed from a 10-point deficit into a 29-22 lead in four and a half minutes.
“[Hash and Baltazar] just started dominating inside-out,” Brown said.
George Wythe led by as many as seven, 33-26, before Galax battled back into a 40-all tie. Caleb Bartlett came off the bench and knocked down a 3-pointer and Pack dropped in a runner to close the third period with the Tide down 40-37.
Baltazar scored 15 of his game-high 18 points in the first half, Hash had 12 points and 11 rebounds and Jalen France finished with 11 points, all in the second half, for the Maroons.
“Coming off that state championship in football, it makes a lot of difference,” said Brown. “Once you figure out how to win, it doesn’t matter what sport, knowing how to win is a lot of it.”
Peoples scored 15 and Pack added 11 for the Maroon Tide.
Galax.....................15 11 11 12––49
George Wythe......10 21 9 20––60
Bartlett 2 0-0 6, Pack 5 0-1 10, D.Brown 1 0-0 2, Peoples 6 1-2 15, Quesenberry 2 0-0 5, Garvey 2 0-0 4, DiGiacomo 1 4-4 7. Totals 19 5-7 49.
George Wythe (7-7)
Baltazar 6 3-4 18, France 2 7-10 11, Anders 2 4-4 9, Layman 3 0-0 6, Byrd 1 2-3 4, Hash 3 6-12 12. Totals 17 22-33 60.
Three-point field goals – Galax 6-32 (Bartlett 2, Peoples 2, Quesenberry, DiGiacomo), George Wythe 4-11 (Baltazar 3, Anders). Rebounds – Galax 31 (D.Brown, Quesenberry 6), George Wythe 43 (Hash 11). Turnovers – Galax 14, George Wythe 20. Team fouls – Galax 21, George Wythe 8. Fouled out – none. Technical fouls – none.
JV – George Wythe won.