GRAFTON—Three, five, two, and four.
Those are the points by which the Grafton Bearcats boys’ basketball team has narrowly lost four of its six games this season, most recently a 44-40 setback at the hands of Bridgeport on Wednesday.
“We have got to find a way to pull one of these out. We have got to find a way to finish,” said Grafton head coach Michael Johnson after the game.
Fast forward two days later and the Bearcats would host the Lewis County Minutemen last night in the Bearcats’ third straight home game at Scotty Hamilton Gymnasium. And the Bearcats got a much-needed win, finishing off Lewis County by the score of 75-66.
To start off the evening, the Bearcats’ JV squad played a solid game, bouncing back from an early 16-9 first-period deficit to take a 28-24 lead at the half. Grafton continued their strong play throughout the second half to extend their lead to six points at the end of the third period, ultimately winning the game by the score of 61-51. Justin Spiker had another big outing for the Bearcats, scoring 30 points, while Dante Owens added 10. Rounding out the scoring for the Bearcats were Matthew Helmondollar (7), Luke Wiseman (6), Carson Lambert (4), Tanner Moats (2), Aiden Hartley (2), and Mason Kinsey (2).
In the varsity contest, the Bearcats would lead 14-11 after the first period and take a 10-point lead into the locker room at halftime, leading by the score of 39-29. Although the Minutemen would creep back to within eight at the conclusion of the third, Grafton would not let this one slip away as they would go on to win by nine and run their record to 5-6 on the season.
“I was really proud of the boys and happy for them to get the win tonight,” said Johnson. “I thought we did a good job of pushing the tempo and making Lewis play baseline to baseline. Hopefully this will give us some confidence moving forward.”
Three Bearcats would hit double digits in scoring while four more players tallied seven points or more. They were led by Jack Faulker with 19, Ryan Maier with 17, and Logan Beltner with 10, followed by Matt Gallo (9), Kaden Delaney (9), Blake Moore (8), and Tanner Moats (7). Faulker also knocked down three 3-pointers in the contest. The Bearcats didn’t let this one get away from them as they had the Bridgeport game on Wednesday.
Against Bridgeport, senior Jack Faulkner and sophomore Ryan Maier combined for 26 of Grafton’s 40 points, with Faulkner leading the way with 15. The Bearcats actually led 21-16 at halftime and were tied with the Indians with around 90 seconds to play but just couldn’t quite secure the victory. Senior Joe Charlton also had another solid game, scoring six points in the contest. He was followed by Matt Gallo (4), Logan Beltner (2), and Kaden Delaney (2).
“I’m proud of my boys for battling tonight,” stated Coach Johnson after the close loss to Bridgeport. “We played really well defensively again but we have got to find some offense. We have to screen and cut better and make better decisions with the basketball. I didn’t think that we executed very well down the stretch and it cost us the basketball game.”
The JV matchup also proved to be a nailbiter as Bridgeport edged Grafton by the score of 54-52. Justin Spiker had another outstanding game, dropping 29 points and connecting on (3) three-pointers in the contest. Dante Owens had a solid showing, scoring 13 points, while Carson Lambert added seven points.
The Bearcats will return to the hardwood on Tuesday as they travel to Elkins to face off against the 3-6 Tigers.
The JV contest is scheduled for 5:45pm while the varsity game is scheduled to tipoff at 7:30pm.