By Will Johnson
NORTH ZULCH – The Grapeland Sandies were back in action last Tuesday as they traveled to North Zulch to take on the #10 ranked (at that time) Flatonia Bulldogs. It was the Sandies’ (ranked #4) first game back after a two-week layoff due to COVID-19 and their first game since falling to LaPoynor, 61-56, back in mid-December.
Flatonia, on the other hand, came into the contest with an unblemished 10-0 record. The game was hard fought throughout, but in the end, the Sandies sent the Bulldogs back to Flatonia with their first loss of the season as Grapeland held off a late rally to win by a final score of 68-66.
As the game got underway, the Sandies looked a little rusty from their time in quarantine and found themselves staring up at a 22-16 deficit when Holden Kloesel drained a three at the buzzer to end the first quarter.
Kloesel paced the Flatonia first period scoring with nine points. Collin Bosl netted five while both Keyshaun Green and Hagan Wagner dropped in four apiece.
Keizion Ashford led the Sandies with five first quarter points while BJ Lamb and Cadarian Wiley both had four. In addition, Riley Murchison connected from behind the arc for three.
The second quarter saw the Sandies open on a 7-0 run to take a 23-22 lead at the 5:24 mark of the period.
Ashford continued to pace Grapeland as he put in seven points in the second. Wiley added four to his total, Lekerian Smith hit from three-point land and Lamb chipped in a basket to give the Sandies a 32-30 lead at the break.
The Grapeland “D” refocused its energy and held the Bulldogs to only eight second quarter points on five from Kloesel and a three-ball from Luke Law.
After halftime, the two teams came out in more of an up-tempo style of play. Ashford buried a three with just under six minutes left in the third to put Grapeland up by a score of 39-32. Just when it seemed the Sandies had the Bulldogs on the ropes, Flatonia responded with a trio of three-pointers to go along with two free throws to take a 45-43 lead with 3:36 remaining in the quarter. A late pair of threes from Lamb, however, gave the Sandies a 55-51 lead as the teams headed into the final period of play.
Lamb took over the Grapeland offense in the third as he poured in 12 points. Ashford added seven while Michael Dancer and Wiley both had a basket to round out the Sandies’ point production in the third.
Wagner scored his first points since early in the game as he put up six in the third. Both Green and Kloesel had five apiece while Bosl hit a three and Alex Hernandez found the scoring column with two.
In the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, the two teams circled each other like a pair of heavyweight boxers in the 12th round of a fight as neither team scored until nearly three-and-a-half minutes were gone.
Ashford broke the scoring drought with a two and then the Sandies worked the ball to Murchison who dropped in a little teardrop. Murchison then knocked down a three and when Lamb drained a three of his own, Grapeland led 68-57 with less than two minutes remaining in the game.
To their credit, the Bulldogs didn’t just roll over as they cut the lead to 68-64 with under 20 seconds remaining. Flatonia had its chances in the final seconds of play but a late turnover by the Bulldogs’ sealed the 68-66 win for the Sandies.
On the game, Flatonia was led by Holden Kloesel with a game-high 24 points. Keyshaun Green went for 13 and Hagan Wagner had 12. Collin Bosl was also in double figures with 10 while Luke Law had five and Alex Hernandez had two points to close out the Bulldogs’ scoring.
The Sandies were led by Keizion Ashford with 23 points, three rebounds and four assists. BJ Lamb poured un 21 points to go along with six boards, seven assists and three steals. Cadarian Wiley was also in double-figures with 10 points, six rebounds and two dimes. Riley Murchison netted nine points for the Sandies to go along with four rebounds. Lekerian Smith had three and Michael Dancer had a basket to close out the Grapeland scoring.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.