By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

GRAPELAND – After a loss to the China Spring Cougars in the Houston County Holiday Tournament, Grapeland Coach Cannon Earp commented he needed to get more offensive production from his players.

In the Sandies’ opening game of District 20-2A, he got more than he asked for as Grapeland used a 31 point first quarter as a springboard to a 101-74 victory over the Lovelady Lions.

The Lions ran into a buzz saw as the Sandies raced out to 31-18 lead after the fi
rst eight minutes of play. Rodney Davis paced the Sandies with nine points in the opening period while Rick Frauenberger added seven. Parker Wilson and Riley Chipman both netted four, Tink McQuirter converted three of four from the free throw line while both Kamari Smith and Tyrin Wiley scored two.

The Lions had a buzz saw of their own in Hunter Murray who showcased his range with three, three pointers including one from half court at the buzzer to go along with a two pointer for 11 points in the first period. Murray was joined in the scoring column by Michael Price with five and Jay Thomas Robinson with two to round out the Lions scoring in the first quarter.

The second quarter belonged to Grapeland’s McQuirter as he dropped in four shots from the field to go along with six of six shooting from the charity stripe, for a total of 14 points. Wilson added five while both Frauenberger and Wiley had three. Josh Ackley got in the scoring column with two and Davis added anther basket as the Sandies pushed their lead to 27 and led 60-33 at the break.

Murry continued his hot shooting for the Lions with five points in the second quarter. He was joined in the point production by a quintet of Lions – Logan Lowery, Alex McKnight, Robinson, Ty Stubblefield and Taylor Womack – who all scored two.

As the second half got underway, Lovelady managed to shave two points off the lead but that was as close as they would get. Murray continued to be deadly accurate from behind the arc as he dropped in two more from long range to go along with two free throws and a mid-range jumper for 10 in the quarter. Robinson netted four while Price, Timothy Johnson and Hunter Patton all scored two. Stubblefield made one of two free throws to round out the Lions’ third period scoring.

Grapeland’s McQuirter continued his torrid pace as he poured in eight more in the third. Chipman dropped in four, Wilson nailed a three pointer as both Davis and Frauenberger chipped in a pair of points to make the score 79-54 after three periods of play.

In the final period of play, the Lions began to rely on Robinson and he delivered eight points on a variety of shots. Price added five, McKnight netted a three pointer as both Johnson and Corey Hawkins chipped in two to close out the Lovelady point production.

The Sandies’ Riley Chipman caught fire in the fourth as he dropped in two threes and two shots from the field for 10 points in the period.  Chipman was joined by Davis, McQuirter and Wilson with four apiece as the Sandies closed out their first District 20-2A game of the season with a 101-74 win.

The Lions were led in scoring by Hunter Murray with 26 points and Jay Thomas Robinson with 16. Michael Price dropped in 12 for Lovelady while Alex McKnight had five and Timothy Johnson had four. Ty Stubblefield added three while four Lions – Corey Hawkins, Logan Lowery, Hunter Patton and Taylor Womack – all had two.

Grapeland was led in scoring by Tink McQuirter with a game high 29 points. Riley Chipman threw in 18 while both Rick Frauenberger and Parker Wilson added 16. Rodney Davis went for 13, Tyrin Wiley had five as both Josh Ackley and Kamari Smith chipped in two.

Following the game, Coach Earp commented on his team’s performance. “We shot the ball well tonight and took care of it, as well. That was definitely a step in the right direction.”

Asked about the 74 points allowed by the Grapeland defense, he commented, “That was a result of the style the Lions play. Sometimes you have to adapt. I don’t really feel too bad about it. For one, that #10 (Hunter Murray) is an outright stud on the court. Some of those shots he was making – our kids were playing good defense on him – but when you’re behind the volleyball line, you’re not expecting a shot to go up, let a lot go in.”

“Overall,” Earp added, “I’m happy all the way around. Yes, they put up 74 points on us, and we could have been better defensively, but that was just the style of the game.”

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.