By Will Johnson
GRAPELAND – After hammering the Leon Cougars on the road by nearly 40 points, the Grapeland Sandies returned home on Tuesday night for a game against the Centerville Tigers.
The Tigers are rebuilding this year and had a 1-1 district record so far this season. On the other end of the spectrum, the Sandies have a 21-1 overall record, a 2-0 district mark and Grapeland is currently ranked #3 in the latest TABC poll.
While many expected a blow out, the Tigers played tough throughout the contest but in the end the Sandies speed and defensive tenacity proved to be too much as Grapeland won the contest by a final score of 80-63.
As the game got underway, both teams showcased their athleticism as they raced up and down the court. Grapeland took the early lead but could not seem to shake the pesky Centerville squad.
Cadarian Wiley paced the Sandies with seven first quarter points while both Keizion Ashford and Austin Driskell dropped in five apiece. Deco Bryant added four and BJ Lamb chipped in a basket as Grapeland took a 23-19 lead after the first period of play.
The Tigers were led by Clayton Bell with eight points in the period and Dillon Denman who had seven. Daniel Robinson also had four for Centerville in the first quarter.
In the second, Grapeland revved up their defense which helped to jump start the Sandie offense. The combination of the two helped Grapeland begin to pull away from Centerville and when Driskell hit a three-pointer at the buzzer, the Sandies had opened up a 15-point lead.
Ashford, Bryant and Driskell led the way for Grapeland with six points apiece in the second quarter. Lamb dropped in five and Riley Murchison hit a shot from behind the arc to give the Sandies a 49-34 lead at the break.
Centerville was paced by Denman and Robinson, both with four points. Kasen Jeitz drained a three while Paxton Hancock and BJ Kelly had two apiece to close out the Tigers first half scoring.
The third quarter saw the Sandies defense begin to frustrate the Tigers as Centerville made several mental errors which led to easy Grapeland scoring opportunities. Lamb led the way in the quarter with six points, while Jonathan Luce dropped in a shot from downtown. Three other Sandies – Driskell, Murchison and Wiley – all had two apiece as Grapeland pushed the lead to 64-47 after three periods of play.
Denman knocked down six for Centerville in the third while Hancock had three. In addition, Kelly and Robinson both had two, third quarter points.
As the final period of play began, Grapeland started to work the clock by moving the ball around until someone would spring free for an easy basket. The strategy worked as the Sandies scored 16 points while the defense kept up the pressure on Centerville and held the Tigers to a 16-point stalemate, despite a Centerville comeback attempt.
Ashford, Bryant and Driskell all had four apiece while Lamb and Wiley both chipped in two as Grapeland held on for the 80-63 win.
Bell and Robinson both had five, fourth quarter points for Centerville while Denman, Hancock and Jeitz had two apiece to round out the Centerville scoring.
On the game, the Tigers were led by Dillon Denman with a game-high 19 points. Daniel Robinson added 15 and Clayton Bell had 13. Paxton Hancock netted seven, Kasen Jeitz had five and BJ Kelly chipped in four to close out the Centerville point production.
The Sandies were led by five players in double figures. Austin Driskell paced Grapeland with 17 points while Keizion Ashford and BJ Lamb both went for 15. Deco Bryant dropped in 14 and Cadarian Wiley had 11. In addition, Riley Murchison had five and Jonathan Luce drained a three pointer to close out the Grapeland scoring.
The Sandies were back in action on Friday as they traveled to Lovelady for a game against the Lions. As of press time, however, the final score was unavailable.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.