By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
BLUEFIELD, Va. —
Don’t worry about the G-Men, despite a 68-46 loss to Radford in the Region C, Division 2 championship game on Saturday night at Graham Middle School.
“I feel like this thing is going to be okay,” Graham head coach Glynn Carlock Jr. said. “It is going to be all right, these guys have to learn how to take the next step and next week is the next step.”
Less than 24 hours after Graham (17-9) defeated Grayson County in two overtimes to reach the regional finals, the G-Men faced the top-seeded Bobcats, and found out why Radford (25-2) has won 17 games in a row, and haven’t lost in this calendar year.
“You are not going to find many teams as good as this bunch that we played tonight,” Carlock said. “They are extremely skilled, extremely well-drilled and very, very athletic and I would say in shape and they are very deep. They use a lot of players and there is not a lot of dropoff.”
Graham will play again in the Division 2 state quarterfinals on Friday or Saturday against Region D champion Gate City at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise. The winner earns a trip to Richmond.
“They gave us some fits here, but in the first half we were able to hang with them a little bit there in the first quarter and the second quarter they started wearing on us,” Carlock said. “We are not going to use any excuses here because at this level you have got to play every night.
“Our dream is still alive right. We just got to have more effort and got to have more heart and more pride next Friday or Saturday, we have got to have it.”
Radford will travel next week to Salem Civic Center to face Virginia High, which lost to Gate City 86-79 in the Region D title game on Saturday.
“Both of them are tough,” Radford head coach Rick Cormany said. “You get to this point in the season they are all good or they wouldn’t be here.”
Radford overcame deficits of 4-0 and 6-4 and took the lead for good at 7-6 on a 3 by Nate Jones, and led 12-8 after the first quarter. A 3 by Colby Hill pulled the G-Men with 21-15, but four second period 3s by Jones, Isaiah Phillips, Josh Little and Dee Cook helped spark a 10-0 run that pushed the fresher Bobcats up 37-25 at the break.
“The advantage of being the number one seed is you get to play early and get home early,” said Cormany, whose Bobcats defeated Glenvar in the opening semifinal on Friday. “These guys were in the bed early and we knew if we could come out and play a lot of numbers that maybe we would get into their legs as the game wore on.”
They did just that, displaying pinpoint passing and good shooting, making 50 percent of their attempts (14-28) in the opening half. Phillips led the Bobcats with 21 points, while Little tallied 11 and Cook and Jones had eight apiece.
“First of all they are a great group of young men,” said Cormany, who is the fourth in coaching wins in VHSL history with 528. “They are a really nice group of young men and they care about each other a lot. They really, really pull together and I think it is obvious on the floor.
“They pick each other up, but I think we caught a tired Graham team, I really do. That has got to happen, you come off that thing, back to back with an emotional game...”
While Graham used just six players against Grayson County and the same six in the opening half against the Bobcats, Radford used nine players and received points from seven of them in the first 16 minutes.
“We are nowhere near as deep as they are, if there is a difference that is the difference,” Carlock said. “We are unable to get as much as he did out of his bench. Hats off to them, they are a quality program and I don’t see how they couldn’t be a favorite to win the state. They work hard and there is no dropoff.”
It didn’t stop after the break, as the Bobcats never allowed the G-Men to get within single figures, with Phillips’ tallying 12 second half points, including eight in the third period, with Radford taking a 54-37 lead into the final quarter.
“My hats off to them, gosh, to have two big wins and beat the number two seed on the road and then beat the number three seed,” said Cormany, of the seventh-seeded G-Men, who defeated George Wythe and Grayson County to qualify for state tourney play. “This game was no blowout, it was still a close game until somewhere in the third quarter...
“These guys are hot right now. They are a very well-coached team and they can do a lot of things that can give you trouble.”
Radford built the lead to as much as 25, as the Bobcats won its first Region C title since 2004, despite winning state titles in 2009 and 2011.
“I am pleased with my guys,” said Cormany, who began his 31-year coaching career at Rocky Gap in 1982. “We have been looking forward to trying to get this Region C (title). We have won two state championships, but haven’t won the Region C championship since 2004.
“We had to go the hard way. We had to travel to the Region D champion and beat those guys two times in a row. We are just tickled to death to get to play close to home.”
Graham was led by Colby Hill with 20 points and eight each from Tony Hood and Roman Workman.
“We want to play our best ball at UVa-Wise next week,” Carlock said. “I think having four or five days to prepare for that after a day off tomorrow which is well needed, we are going to be okay.”
It will be Graham’s first trip to a state tournament since reaching the Group AA quarterfinals in 2010.
“We are still alive, our heads are held high, there are a bunch of young men that left this locker room here about 10 minutes ago whose heads were up...,” Carlock said. “You know what, we have as good a shot as anybody to go to Richmond and I think they believe in themselves.”
—Contact Brian Woodson
at Graham Middle School
Tony Hood 3 2-4 8, Spencer Sheets 1 0-0 2, Marshall Hawley 3 0-0 6, Colby Hill 6 6-6 20, Zach Proffitt 1 0-0 2, Roman Workman 2 3-4 8, Samuel Stowers 0 0-0 0, Tim Clarke 0 0-0 0, Jonathan Figueroa 0 0-0 0, Josh Altizer 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 11-14 45.
Marcus Finley 3 1-2 7, Nate Jones 3 0-0 8, Josh Little 3 4-8 11, Isaiah Phillips 8 4-5 21, Zach Bradley 1 0-0 2, Dee Cook 3 0-0 8, Anthony Miano 2 0-0 5, Eli Facemire 2 0-0 4, Drew Cox 1 0-0 2, R.J. Jordan 0 0-0 0, Monari Giahara 0 0-0 0. Totals 26 9-15 68.
Graham.................................8 17 12 9 — 46
Radford..............................12 25 17 14 — 68
3-point goals: GR 3 (Hill 2, Workman 1); RD 7 (Jones 2, Cook 2, Miano 1, Little 1, Phillips 1). Total fouls: GR 8; RD 9. Fouled out: none. Technicals: none.