By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
BLUEFIELD, Va. —
Asher Dillow had to sit and watch the 22-point beating that Bland County took on its home court earlier this season against Graham.
He liked the view better on Friday, and the final result too.
Dillow and Chase Hankins scored 20 points each, and Bland County made key plays down the stretch to hold off the G-Men and capture a key 62-58 Mountain Empire District win on Friday night at a packed Graham Middle School.
“It makes me feel great. Any time you lose to a team and you are sitting there and watching it, it kills you inside, especially when you love the game as much as I do,” said Dillow, who missed that 60-38 loss on Jan. 11 with an injured left ankle. “It just killed me, but I am just glad to be back out and us be able to get a win today.”
Bland County (12-7, 4-4) sent Graham (14-6, 6-2) to its second straight defeat, ending a difficult stretch that saw the G-Men go from being tied for first place when the week started to two games out with two games to play.
“They did a nice job defensively, they came out and they wanted this game more than we did obviously with the way we played,” Graham head coach Glynn Carlock, Jr. said. “We are frustrated with our effort tonight. We hoped to get in the gym and not have a carryover from the last game that we had and it is sure evident it is still there.
“Some how, some way, we are going to have to find a way to get out of this funk and do the best we can and trust what we have done to get us here.”
Graham led 18-14 after one quarter and 36-33 at the break, with Colby Hill scoring 11 of his game-high 23 points for the G-Men in the second period Spencer Sheets added 13 points for Graham, while Zach Proffitt had 12, but just two of those came in the second half.
Hill and Sheets had two 3s each for the G-Men, who were 5-for-10 from the free throw line.
“I just thought we played bad tonight, we are not hitting free throws, 5 for (10) from the free throw line is not going to get it done,” Carlock said. “We are not hitting shots. We are struggling on all phases of it right now this week so hopefully we will get this week over with and next week will be a better week and get ready for the tournament.
“We just didn’t play very well and hopefully next week is better.”
After starting the season with a 7-1 mark, the Bears had dropped six of 10, blowing double-digit leads in four of those defeats. No wonder Bland County head coach Hankins was thrilled with a road win with just two games left until the district tournament begins.
“I knew Graham had some momentum building,” Hankins said. “I think they are (14-6), but they are a tremendous ball team, they play so well together and Colby Hill was tremendous all night and their two big kids played well in the first half.
“I think our defensive intensity kind of got them a little bit in the second half and it is a huge win for us, it really is.”
Dillow had 12 of 20 points at the break, while Hankins had 11 of his 20 in the second half. Clark added 14 points for Bland County. Dillow had four 3s, while Hankins and Clark had two apiece.
“We have been struggling a little bit lately...,” said Dillow, whose Bears had lost to Grayson County on Tuesday, one night before the Blue Devils beat the G-Men. “We came in here and got a win tonight so I am proud of them.”
Bland County’s swarming, aggressive defense held Graham scoreless in the third period until Tony Hood made a layup with 1:17 on the clock. The Bears took a 42-40 lead into the final quarter, and the G-Men tied the score at 42-42 on a bucket by Hill.
“That is the main thing is our defense,” Dillow said. “We put good pressure on the ball out front. I thought we did a tremendous job of denying the ball, fighting through screens, boxing out, rebounding, we did a terrific job in the second half.”
The lead was never greater than four points in the second half, with Graham taking its final lead on a 3 by Spencer Sheets with 2:20 on the clock, but Dillow answered just 19 seconds later when a 3 of his own to put the Bears up for good at 56-54.
Bland County had more trips to the charity stripe, and took advantage of them, making 16 of 22, including 6 of 9 in the final 1:50, with Hankins and Clark making three apiece. That duo combined for 12 fourth period points.
“That is what this team needed,” said Hankins, of the play of his son, Chase, in the second half. “We needed some senior leadership in particular and that should go a long way for not only (Chase’s) confidence, but for our confidence as well.”
Clark put the Bears up 60-58 on a free throw with 16:3 seconds left, and Hill had a chance to put Graham in the lead with a 3, but his shot clanked off the backboard with 5 seconds to go. Clark grabbed the carom, was fouled, and made two free throws for the final margin.
“....To come out here and get this one tonight means a whole lot to us,” Hankins said. “That should give us some confidence going into next week and finish the regular season and hopefully into the tournament the following week.
“This time of the year every team is going to be battling because they are afraid of losing that last game so to speak, but you have got to battle night in and night out.”
Up next for Bland County is a visit to Galax and a trip to Fort Chiswell, followed by the MED tourney the next week. That is what these senior-laden Bears have been waiting for all season.
“One more week to go,” said Dillow, with a smile. “It doesn’t matter how good you are at the start, it matters how good you are at the end.”
Note: Cody Hatfield and Ashley Cruise were crowned at halftime as Mr. & Mrs. GHS.
—Contact Brian Woodson
at Graham Middle School
BLAND COUNTY (4-4, 12-7)
Asher Dillow 8 0-0 20, Jonathan Goins 1 1-1 3, Darryl Clark 4 4-4 14, John Miller 1 1-2 3, Chase Hankins 4 10-15 20, Jonah Miller 1 0-0 2, Tyler White 0 0-0 0, Tyler Faulkner 0 0-0 0, Andrew Pauley 0 0-0 0, Kalub Lambert 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 16-22 62.
GRAHAM (14-6, 6-2)
Tony Hood 2 0-1 5, Spencer Sheets 5 1-3 13, Marshall Hawley 0 0-0 0, Colby Hill 9 3-4 23, Zach Proffitt 6 0-1 12, Roman Workman 2 1-1 5, Samuel Stowers 0 0-0 0, Jonathan Figueroa 0 0-0 0. Totals 24 5-10 58.
Bland County.........................14 19 9 20 — 62
Graham...................................18 18 4 18 — 58
3-point goals: BC 8 (Dillow 4, Hankins 2, Clark 2); GR 5 (Hill 2, Sheets 2, Hood 1). Total fouls: BC 12; GR 15. Fouled out: none. Technicals: none. JV—Graham 29 (Tanner Miller 8, Bryce Farris 7); Bland County 25 (Shae Meadows 11, Zane Cunningham 8).