AM
G-Girls denied in SEC title game
Graham (42) Vs. Virginia High (56)
Feb 19, 2016
By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
BRISTOL, Va. — The third time was a charm for Virginia High.

After losing twice to Graham during the regular season, Amaya Lee and the Bearcats were confident there wouldn’t be a third loss to the G-Girls.

There wasn’t. Lee scored nine of her 13 points in the second half, and Virginia High’s freshman point guard led the Bearcats to the Southern Empire Conference championship with a 56-42 win over Graham on Friday night at the Bearcat Den.

“It comes down to showing heart and tonight it was Virginia High’s night,” Graham head coach Jessica Gunter said. “I think they just had a lot of heart tonight and they just went out there and got it.”

Virginia High, which had been deemed the SEC regular season champion by a points system, wanted to prove its point in the court.

“We feel like we are not getting some respect and I told them we have to earn it,” Virginia High head coach Kevin Timmons said. “The only way you get it is to earn it. You want to say you are a good team, beat a good team.

“They are a good team, let’s go get them, and they came to play.”

Especially Lee, who wasn’t worried about the Bearcats having lost twice to the G-Girls, including a five-point game just eight days ago at Graham.

“I knew that if we worked hard and we did what Coach said we would come back and beat them,” Lee said.

Graham (14-7) was led by Lexi Kiser, who had 22 points, but 17 of those came in the opening half when the junior guard scored all but two of the G-Girls’ points.

It was Lee who drew the assignment to slow her down after the break.

“He told me to go and shut her down and don’t let her get the ball and that is what I tried to do,” Lee said.

Turnovers proved costly for Graham, with 13 of 20 of coming in the opening half, with the Bearcats take advantage of some late miscues to whittle a 19-13 deficit to 19-all, with Lee making a layup off a steal at the halftime buzzer.

“Virginia High played a good game, they had a lot of grit and they wanted it more,” Gunter said. “I just don’t think we had the concentration we needed. We weren’t moving like we have moved and when you are not moving to get the ball you not going to get the ball.”

Even though the Bearcats stayed in the locker room for less than two minutes, they had their instructions and they followed through on them.

“Coach Kev told us to go out there and just play as hard as we could and pick it up and that is what I did,” Lee said. “It was the team and I picked it up.”

It wasn’t just Lee. Graham struggled to find open looks and missed numerous point-blank shots. Junior standout Dejah Carter was held scoreless and Karrah Large had five points in the lane.

“Our game plan tonight was try to hold (Dejah) to 10 points,” Timmons said.

Carly Moretto had 11 points, including three 3s, all after the break for Graham. Kiser also had three 3s, and Carter had 11 rebounds for Graham.

“We stopped Dejah,” Lee said, “and Carly, we didn’t let her score as much as she wanted to.”

Virginia High picked up the pressure, sending Graham to the charity stripe, but the G-Girls made just 10 of 22 in the game, and 3 for 10 in the final period.

“(Amaya) sets the tone. Kiser started off real hot, and we had to make an adjustment to help Amaya,” Timmons said. “We were trying to figure out a way to slow her down a little bit. She had help, it wasn’t by herself.”

Five lead changes and a tie highlighted the early part of the third period, with Graham’s last lead coming at 26-25 on a basket by Kathryn Perdue. Virginia High went on a 12-6 run to finish the quarter with Moretto canning a pair of 3s to keep the G-Girls within 37-32 going to the final quarter.

Lee simply didn’t allow the G-Girls to get any closer than three from that point.

“We have relied on her a lot this year,” Timmons said of Lee. “She is the point guard, she is a true point guard. As a freshman she runs a lot, she gets things done for us.”

With Kiser limited, Moretto tried to carry Graham, making two 3s in the third quarter and five more points in the fourth, but it wasn’t enough.

“I think Carly did do a good job of kind of stepping into that role,” Gunter said. “I will be wanting her to do that more and more.”

It was all Virginia High after a Moretto 3 narrowed the deficit to 45-40 with 4:08 left to play. Taylor Owens, who had eight of her 13 points in the period, helped the Bearcats finish on a 11-4 run.

Kristian Wilson added 10 points for Virginia High, who were 19 of 26 from the charity stripe, including 11 of 16 in the fourth quarter.

Graham had heard the old adage about beating a good team three times. It certainly came true on this night.

“We were cautious coming in, we knew it is hard to beat a good team three times and we beat them recently so it is hard to do that,” Gunter said. “You kind of learn each other’s game and what is new about it and what you can change.

“We have had kind of a fast tournament pace. It was what it was.”

While Virginia High will host Union in a Region 2A West game on Monday, Graham will travel that same night to play Ridgeview.

“I do know a little bit about them,” Gunter said. “We scrimmaged them early on. We will practice and get back after it.”

As for Lee, the SEC title was the first of what she hopes are many for the rest of the season.

“We have more goals after this,” Lee said, “but this is our first one.”

Her ultimate goal?

“Win a state championship,” she said, with a smile.

At Bearcat Den

GRAHAM (14-7)

Lexi Kiser 5 9-16 22, Carly Moretto 4 0-0 11, Casey Spencer 0 0-0 0, Karrah Large 2 1-2 5, Dejah Carter 0 0-4 0, Brittany Tignor 0 0-0 0, Kathryn Perdue 1 0-0 2, Caitlin Vance 1 0-0 2. Totals 13 10-22 42.

VIRGINIA HIGH (20-4)

Amaya Lee 6 0-0 13, Taylor Owens 3 7-8 13, Hayley Bryant 2 0-0 5, Baytlee Nave 1 0-0 2, Savannah Jacobs 1 2-2 4, Jada Campbell 1 3-4 5, Kristen Wilson 2 5-6 10, Kerrigan Bailey 0 2-5 2, Jasmine Hightshoe 1 0-1 2, Lauren Deleon 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 19-26 56.

Graham..........................7 12 13 10 — 42

Virginia High.................8 11 18 19 — 56

3-point goals: GR 6 (Kiser 3, Moretto 3) ; VH 3 (Lee 1, Wilson 1, Bryant 1). Total fouls: GR 21; VH 17. Fouled out: none. Technicals: none.
Nightly Roundup
Game Scoreboard
Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 OT SCORE
Graham 7 12 13 10 0 42
Virginia High 8 11 18 19 0 56
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