By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

GRAPELAND – The Grapeland Sandies took another step towards their ninth consecutive district championship on Tuesday, Feb. 7 with their 80-37 win over the Centerville Tigers.

The win sets up a showdown with the Big Sandy Wildcats on Friday, Feb. 10. The Sandies defeated the Wildcats earlier this season by a score of 64-49, in Dallardsville.

It’s simple, if Grapeland wins on Friday they are the District 20-2A champs, regardless of the outcome of their regular season finale against the Groveton Indians on Valentine’s Day.

As the game got underway on Tuesday, Grapeland raced out to a 26-11 lead after the first eight minutes of play. The Sandies used an inside/outside combination as they dropped in three 3-pointers, seven 2-poiters and three free throws.

Tink McQuirter paced the Sandies with nine first quarter points. Rodney Davis had five, Riley Chipman dropped in four, Josh Ackley and Parker Wilson both knocked down a 3-pointer and Tyrin Wiley added a two from inside to close out the period.

The Tigers were led in scoring by Hunter Free with three points while four other Centerville players – Daniel Byrd, Alex Fletcher, Brandon Madison and Coleman Robinson – all scored two.

The Sandies turned up the defensive pressure in the second quarter and limited the Tigers to a total of six points on four from Byrd and two from Robinson.

Offensively, the Sandies continued to torch the Tigers as they added 19 to their first quarter total to make the score 45-17 at the half.

Chipman, McQuirter and Wilson all had five in the period. They were joined in the second quarter scoring by Rick Frauenberger and Kamari Smith with two apiece.

After the break, Centerville tried to chip away at the Grapeland lead but was only able to shave a single point off the deficit. Free dropped in eight to lead the Tigers and was joined by Byrd, Fletcher and Robinson with two points each.

Meanwhile, Grapeland continued to keep the Tigers at bay with 13 points of their own. Davis led the way with five, while a quartet of Sandies – Chipman, McQuirter, Smith and Wiley – all had two points.

The fourth quarter was more of the same as the Grapeland defense held Centerville to six while the “O” put up 22. The Tigers’ points came from Byrd, Free and Madison with two apiece.

Grapeland moved back outside and dropped in four 3’s in the final period of play. Chipman nailed a 3-pointer as part of his seven points in the period. Ackley, Smith and Wilson all found their range from behind the arc and dropped in treys of their own, Davis and McQuirter both converted a pair of free throws while Frauenberger closed out the Grapeland scoring with a two from inside.

The Tigers were led in scoring by Hunter free with 13 points and Daniel Byrd with 10. Alex Fletcher and Coleman Robinson had six apiece while Brandon Madison chipped in two to close out the Centerville point production.

The Sandies were led by Riley Chipman and Tink McQuirter with 18 points each. Rodney Davis poured in 12, Parker Wilson knocked down 11, Kamari Smith netted seven and Josh “Bear” Ackley had six. Rick Frauenberger and Tyrin Wiley both chipped in four to round out the Grapeland scoring.

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