Bearcats rally to second straight victory, spoiling Irish season opener

Grafton’s Justin Spiker drives against Notre Dame’s Clay Martino.

CLARKSBURG— The Grafton High School (GHS) Bearcats traveled to Notre Dame Thursday night looking for their second win of the season, while the Irish were hoping to take a season opener win for themselves.

The Bearcats started off strong, with a quick 17-4 lead to close out the first quarter, as Notre Dame struggled to work through first game jitters and find their rhythm, going just two-of-12 in shooting over the first minutes of action.

When Notre Dame was finally able to connect and get on the scoreboard, the Bearcats quickly shutdown their celebration going on a 15-0 run.

The Irish didn’t let the deficit break their spirits and battled back over the next two and a half quarters of action, sinking consecutive three-point jumpers to take a 63-59 lead, as the Cats began encountering struggles of their own on the defensive end.

“We told them they’re a good basketball team, they’re going to make a run at you and they did,”  head coach Michael Johnson disclosed.

Luckily for the Bearcats, that run was short-lived, and they were able to find back-to-back baskets of their own from Justin Spiker, who sunk his layups tying the score at 63 all.

The Cats would pull ahead once more with Blake Moore sinking two from the charity stripe with 1:20 to play.

From there, Moore helped his team seal with deal going seven-of-eight at the line over the final 38 seconds of play, as the Irish found difficulties in running their offensive sets.

“During the timeout in the fourth quarter when we went down with three or four minutes to go, we told our kids, ‘Just relax. Make the good decisions that you made early, and we’ll find a way to get it done.’ We were able to do that,” shared Johnson.

Moore recorded 20 points on the night, leading the scoring for GHS in their 73-66 victory, while Ryan Maier added 16.

Justin Spiker scored 12, and JT Veltri contributed 10 to give the Bearcats four double figure scorers.

The Bearcats also had four players, Maier, Moore, Delaney and Tanner Moats, record at least seven rebounds.

“I’m just super, super proud of my kids. We fought through a bunch of foul trouble, and we just found a way to get it done at the end,” Johnson voiced.

With the win, Grafton moved to 2-0 on the year. The team will hit the hardwood this evening at 7:00 p.m., at Gilmer County High School, looking to continue their winning streak.

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