Trophy for Tornado
Graham (52) Vs. Richlands (64)
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
TAZEWELL, Va. — Richlands’ boys basketball has built up a fervent fan following this season. Saturday night at Tazewell Middle School, the Blues gave them something to holler about.
Big post Landon Lowe scored 20 points and had double-digit rebounds and Grant Herndon fired up 18 points and the Blues upended Graham 64-52 for the Southern Empire Conference tournament championship.
The outcome doesn’t change a thing as far as next week’s 2A West Regional first-round pairings go. Richlands (17-3) still has to travel to face Conference 40 champion Gate City on Tuesday. Graham (17-3) still gets to host Conference 40 runner-up Union at home on Tuesday.
But for a boys basketball program that hasn’t won any basketball championships of any kind in recent memory, Saturday was a night for celebration.
“I don’t know what to think. Our boys stepped up tonight and became men,” said Blues head coach Fred Phillips, who was downright giddy after the victory. “It was a dogfight. Hat’s off to Graham. But you’ve got to love them Blue Tornadoes right now.”
Herndon proved the key to Richlands finally breaking open a tight game, getting loose for three of his game-total four 3-pointers during the final 3:25 of the third period.
“We’re all good shooters and when one of us gets hot, our team does a good job getting us the ball,” said Herndon, who was fouled while trying to close out the third period with another trifecta but got fouled and sank all three free throws for the 41-32 lead headed into the final stanza.
The Blues got 12 points out of Luke Phillips, but Graham had done an excellent job holding Cody Fuller scoreless. Scottie Ball, while remaining a force on the boards, was confined to seven points. Herndon was the solution.
“We couldn’t get anything going. Herndon is a firecracker. We put him in there and then bam! bam! bam! bam!” Phillips said. “And then I thought we could choke the boards, too.”
Lowe, a wide-shouldered junior who didn’t have a very strong showing during Richlands’ lone regular season meeting with the G-Men, was a force on the boards and went 12-for-18 on the free throw line en route to his season high.
“We came out to play tonight. We didn’t joke around,” said Lowe, who even put the ball on the floor impressively in a few one-on-one situations with Graham’s Garrett Dalton, himself being no slouch athlete for a big man.
“We’ve struggled a lot as a team the last few years with Graham. But we came out here and we showed Graham how we can play. I’m really proud of my team,” Lowe said.
Cameron Allen scored 11 points to pace the G-Men, who pulled within 54-46 on a Roman Workman transition layup with 1:33 remaining to play. That was as close as Graham would get. The Blues kept themselves on top with a 10-for-12 showing at the free throw line in the stretch.
As a team, Richlands shot 27-for-39 at the charity stripe. Graham shot 13-for-24 at the foul line.
“Congratulations to them. They deserved it. They did a good job,” said G-Men head coach Glynn Carlock, Jr., who thought his defense let too many men get away from them.
“I thought Herndon did a really good job shooting the ball tonight, obviously ... and the Lowe kid really stepped up his game,” he said.
Even though the outcome has no effect on the regional bracket, Carlock said Graham wasn’t looking past Richlands to its upcoming showdown with Union.
“We wanted this one, too. We want to collect all the hardware we can. But they did tonight ... and it’s been a while. But hey they’ve got a good group of kids. They deserve to shine and have their moment tonight,” he said.

At Tazewell Middle School
Luke Phillips 3 6-6 12, Grant Herndon 4 6-8 18, Will Moir 0 0-0 0, Cody Fuller 0 0-0 0, Ethan Ratliff 1 0-0 2, Landon Lowe 4 12-18 20, Mackenzie Smith 0 0-0 0, Ben Thomason 1 2-3 4, Taylor Horn 0 0-0 0, Scottie Ball 3 1-4 7. Totals 16 27-39 64.
GRAHAM (17-3)
Chandler Cooper 2 6-8 10, Nick Morgan 2 0-4 5, Roman Workman 2 2-4 7, Thomas Clarke 3 1-2 7, Emil Curto 0 0-0 0, Cameron Allen 4 2-2 11, Darrin Martin 2 0-0 4, Tanner Miller 1 0-0 2, Garrett Dalton 2 2-4 6. Totals 18 13-24 52.
Richlands..................10 11 20 23 — 64
Graham.......................8 18 6 20 — 52
3-point goals: Richlands 4 (Herndon 4), Graham 3 (Morgan, Workman, Allen).
Game Scoreboard
Graham 8 18 6 20 0 52
Richlands 10 11 20 23 0 64
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