GRAFTON—After a tough defeat to Robert C. Byrd at home last Wednesday, Grafton Bearcats head coach Michael Johnson and his team had a few days to prepare for their upcoming trip to Kingwood on Monday against the Preston Knights.
The Knights, who were coming into the game on a three-game losing streak, couldn’t pull off the comeback at home after being down seven at the half as the Bearcats would ultimately take the win by the score of 70-67.
“For the first time in a long time, we started the game well,” said a relieved Johnson after the game.
Grafton would hit four three-pointers in the first period, but Preston’s Nick Smith would score 11 of his team-high 19 points in the first period as well to give Preston the 17-14 advantage after the opening quarter. After a big second quarter by the Bearcats, which included five more three-pointers, the Bearcats would take a 37-30 lead into the locker room at the half.
The Knights would come out in the third period and go on a run of their own, with Smith, Austin Matheny, Zach Shannon, and Jaden Fultz scoring all 26 of their team’s points in that quarter to bring the Knights to within two, 58-56, heading into the fourth.
The Bearcats would continue get strong play from senior Jack Faulkner, junior Blake Moore, and sophomore Ryan Maier, as Grafton would hold on for the hard-fought three-point win and move to 8-8 on the season.
Moore would finish with 20 points, while Faulkner and Maier finished with 19 points each. Kaden Delaney (5), Logan Beltner (4), Joe Charlton (4), and Matt Gallo (3) rounded out the scoring for the Bearcats.
“It was a game of runs from us and then from them,” stated Johnson after the game. “The boys competed and battled throughout and we were able to find a way to pull it out in the end.”
In the earlier JV matchup, the Bearcats would drop that contest by the score of 63-38. A 21-20 halftime lead by Preston turned into a 44-26 lead after three periods, and that would prove to be too much for the Bearcats to withstand.
Tanner Moats led the Bearcats in scoring with 12 points, while Justin Spiker added seven. Rounding out the scoring were Dante Owens (9), Cayden Boylen (6), Carson Lambert (3), Mason Kinsey (2), and Aiden Hartley (2).
Grafton (8-8) will be back in action tonight as they travel to Liberty Harrison (4-14) for a Big 10 matchup in Clarksburg. JV tipoff is scheduled for 5:45pm while the varsity game will begin at 7:30pm.