By LARRY HYPES
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
TAZEWELL, Va. —
Graham simply never completely let the Dogs out.
The G-Men earned a 70-63 non-district victory over Tazewell Monday behind the sharp shooting of Spencer Sheets, who drained five three-pointers and scored 25 points, combined with Colby Hill’s steady 19 points and the floor play of Tony Hood, who directed the offense and added 14 points.
Graham built up a 17-point lead, saw Tazewell whittle the margin to only 4, at 59-55 with just over three minutes left, and then inched ahead again.
Tazewell, unable to hit the three-point shot for almost the entire evening, had to contend with a frustrating inside defensive blanket that Graham was able to keep over the attack.
Jalen Jordan popped in 20 points and Noah Walker had a standout game with 19 points, 13 rebounds, and seven blocks for the Bulldogs (2-1).
The teams traded early streaks. First, Tanner Catron dropped the corner three-ball and Noah Walker rebounded then rose for a dunk that boosted Tazewell to a 5-0 lead. Graham then rattled off 13 consecutive points.
Graham was sparked early by Zach Proffitt’s three points, before Sheets, gave Graham its first lead with a 20-foot trey at the 3:10 mark and the run was capped by Colby Hill’s three-pointer beyond the arc. Walker had a pair of blocked shots and Jalen Jordan swatted away three in the first two quarters for the Bulldogs.
Tony Hood keyed the relentless Graham pressure out front while Proffitt maintained a presence under the bucket and Roman Workman worked the offensive baseline on the Graham side.
Hood said, “We had a little plan. We knew we needed to stay on their shooter, keep a hand in their faces. Tazewell is a good shooting team and we tried to deny them the open shot.”
Cold shooting outside from the perimeter and the foul line plagued Tazewell for the entire first half.
Hill’s baseline jumper with 4:24 to go before the break boosted the G-Men to a 21-10 advantage. Jonathan Figueroa came in to bolster Graham’s inside attack and moments later Sheets’ three-point shotfrom the left side doubled up the Dogs at 26-12.
Hood drained yet another trey on the next possession as Graham bolted to a 29-14 advantage and Sheets lofted a one-hander that nailed nothing but net, pushing the surging Graham cagers ahead 32-16.
“We played hard,” said Sheets, who was 5-of-8 beyond the arc. “We let up a little after halftime, but Coach (Glynn) Carlock had us prepared and we knew what to expect. This was a big win tonight.”
The G-Men led 36-18 at the break but Proffitt picked up his third foul in the opening 10 seconds of the the quarter as the Dogs began battle back behind Jordan’s five straight freebies and lay-up off the glass.
Hood put back a pair of buckets, however, combined with two free throws.
“We knew Tazewell would make a run late and they did,” said Graham coach Glynn Carlock. “Our guys kept their composure and I’m proud of that. An unsung hero out there tonight for us was Marshall Hawley, who played his heart out against Noah (Walker), who can be outstanding inside.
“We got some quality play down the stretch after Tazewell got to within four points and we were able to close it out. Spencer obviously shot very well from outside. That helped a lot.”
Hancock’s three-pointer for Tazewell, the first since the game’s opening shot, helped to narrow the margin but the G-Men maintained a double-digit lead. Sheets put up yet another trey and then moved in for another score to push GHS up to 50 points with 2:10 left in the third quarter and 17-point cushion over the stunned Dogs.
Walker stopped the march momentarily in the final two minutes of the quarter with two inside scores sandwiched around Catron’s corner three point shot as Tazewell closed to within 10, at 50-40, with :45 left on the clock.
“We just didn’t seem to play our hardest all around,” sighed Walker. “I made some free throws at the end and some shots but none of that matters unless the team wins. We all have to put it together to win games. No one player ever won a game. It is all about team.”
Figueroa drew his third foul near the end of the stanza and Walker popped in two more freebies, cutting the lead to 9 points as suddenly-hot Tazewell finished the quarter with 24 points overall.
Sheets, dependable all night, connected yet again with a trey and the patient G-Men once again started to pull away with six minutes left.
Walker inside and Catron outside, however, slowly brought the Dogs back. Catron and Hancock finished with three treys apiece for Tazewell. Defensively, Christian Lewis hauled in a team-high 16 rebounds and eight assists.
“It (the outcome) was disappointing,” noted THS coach Lee Walker. “We missed a lot of shots but we have to keep shooting. Each phase of the game has to help the other. Sometimes tonight we were just not able to do that.
“Graham played well and kept us off balance at times but we haveto take it upon ourselves to overcome that. We’ll just keep working hard in practice and in games to get better.”
The G-Men were 11-19 from the free throw line while Tazewell finished 13-23.
Graham opens its home season Wednesday against Giles and hosts Richlands Friday. Tazewell entertains Lebanon Friday and is at home again Saturday afternoon against the Oak Hill Academy Red squad.
at Tazewell Middle School
Tony Hood 12, Spencer Sheets 25, Roman Workman 2, Marshall Hawley 1, Colby Hill 19, Zach Proffitt 4, Jonathan Figueroa.
Colin Hanock 9, Christian Lewis 3, Tanner Catron 11, Jalen Jordan 20, Noah Walker 19, Jessee Mountain 1.
Graham........13 26 15 19 — 70
Tazewell...........6 12 24 21 — 63
3-point goals: GR 7 (Sheets 5, Hill 1, Hood 1); TZ 6 (Hancock 3, Catron 3). Fouled out: none.