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Jacksboro Herald-Gazette

Graford wins state title

By Brian Smith,

2023-03-14

Graford wins state title Brian Smith Tue, 03/14/2023 - 12:39 pm   Chelzee Blaze speaks at the Jacksboro Economic Development Corporation meeting Monday, March 6 in front of a packed house at City Council chambers expressing her displeasure with a potential cattle rendering plant coming to town. The EDC board did not get a second for the motion to sell land to the company, killing the proposal. Photo/Brian Smith Poise, character and experience are needed for any team going to the state tournament. Defending Class A state champion Graford had all three at the state basketball tournament March 9-11 in San Antonio,. The Jackrabbits needed all three to get through some tight spots in both the semifinal and final to repeat as state champs. Brief summaries of both games follow: Graford 49, Jayton 44 (OT) In the championship against Jayton, Graford came back from a seven- point deficit to force overtime and take a 4944 win, giving the Jackrabbits back-to-back state titles. The Jaybirds had closed the first half on a 5-0 run to draw within 21-18 at the half and then opened the third quarter on a 10-0 skein to take a 28-21 lead with 4:52 left. Colin Roberts snapped the run with a basket and free throw. Jayton went back up seven but the Rabbits closed the quarter on a 7-0 run with a Roberts jumper and layup combined with Jess Lemley’s three-pointer to tie the game at 31 with 22 seconds remaining in the third. Roberts gave Graford the lead back 33 seconds into the fourth quarter at 33-31. Jayton tied the game and went up 38-37 on Sean Stanaland’s free throw with 3:05 to go. Graford held tough getting another Roberts jumper and a Brad Lemley lay-in to go up 41-38 with 40 ticks left. Stanaland’s third three-pointer tied the game with 12 seconds left. Jayton got the ball back but a McKennon Lemley block on a three-pointer with two seconds to go forced overtime Roberts broke the deadlock with a threepoint play with 3:29 to go. Connor Waters’ free throws extended the lead to five in the final minute. Colt Gentry made things interesting, burying a three-pointer with 40 seconds left to cut the lead to two. It would be as close as Jayton would get as free throws by McKennon Lemley and Shea in the final 36 seconds would seal the deal. Baskets by Brand Lemley, McKennon Lemley and Roberts accounted for an 8-0 Graford string in the first quarter and gave the Rabbits a 10-5 lead. Stanaland’s three-pointer and free throws would tie the game at 10 after one. Another8-0Rabbitrun, courtesy of two Shea baskets and baskets by Roberts and Brad Lemley put Graford up 21-13. Stanaland again had an answer with another three-pointer. That, and a pair of Nathaniel Williams free throws would cut the Jaybird deficit to 21-18 at the half. Roberts had 20 points and Shea 14 for Graford. Stanaland tossed in 22 points for Jayton. Graford 66, Benjamin 42 In the first semifinal game Thursday morning, Benjamin used a 36-point performance from Grayson Rigdon to stay close but the Jackrabbits closed on an 11-0 run to post the win. Graford Coach Jeff Bell said switching defenders on Rigdon and stopping the fouling of him was key in breaking things open late. Benjamin had its last lead at 7-6 but a three-pointer and bucket from Christian Shea and a Colin Roberts basket helped the Rabbits go up 13-9 after one. Rigdon took the team on his shoulders, scoring the Mustangs’ last 30 points. Benjamin would get within two but a Shea three-pointer and baskets from Brad Lemley and McKennon Lemley gave Graford its biggest lead to date at 22-14. Rigdon had three straight hoops to bring Benjamin within two, 24-22. Cye Lemley’s jumper and a Jess Lemley free throw down the stretch would put Graford, which shot 54% in the first half, up 2924 at halftime. A Rigdon three-pointer again cut the lead to two with his free throws and hoop tying the game at 31for the last time with 5:50 left. Roberts’ layin and another Shea three-pointer put the squad up 36-31. Rigdon cut the deficit to one with 2:26 remaining in the third. Graford ended a 3:40 span without a basket when Shea buried another three-pointer, putting the Jackrabbits up 41-35 to start the fourth. Connor Waters, McKennon Lemley and Rigdon traded baskets before Brad Lemley put the lead into double figures for the first time with 4:28 to go. His bucket and free throws made the score 49-39. The first of two Roberts dunks in the final frame extended the lead to 12. The squads traded points before a McKennon Lemley three-pointer and pair of Roberts buckets gave Graford a 59-42 lead with 2:08 left. A Rigdon technical with 1:55 to go allowed Shea and Waters to convert four free throws and go up 21. Shea led three Rabbits in double figures with 18 points. Brad Lemley had 17 and Roberts 14 points.

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