GRAFTON—After knocking off Petersburg on Saturday in their annual “Shoot for a Cure” game in which senior Jack Faulkner scored his 1,000th career point, the Grafton Bearcats boys’ basketball team returned to action on Wednesday to host the red-hot Robert C. Byrd Eagles at Scotty Hamilton Gymnasium.
The Eagles, who were coming into the game riding an 11-game winning streak, jumped out to a big lead and then never looked back for a 72-56 win over the Bearcats.
Grafton, who quickly found themselves down 20 points at the end of the first period, played even with RCB throughout the rest of the contest, even outscoring the Eagles in two of the remaining three periods.
But the early hole the Bearcats dug themselves into was too much to overcome as the Eagles would get the 16-point win and move to 12-2 after starting off the season 0-2.
“First off, RCB is probably the best team we have faced all year,” said Grafton head coach Michael Johnson. “They are athletic, very quick, have good length, and shoot it well. They get out in transition very well and we had worked on that the two days of practice for the game but we didn’t handle it well early. 20 of their 25 first-quarter points came in transition.”
“After that we played even with them but you can’t dig a 20-point hole in high school basketball. It’s almost impossible to get out of, yet we continue to dig it,” he added.
Faulkner again led the team in scoring with 18 points, and before game he was recognized for his 1,000th career point which he reached during the previous outing against Petersburg. A customized basketball was presented to him by GHS Principal Lori Shumaker, GHS Athletic Director Rich Bord, and Coach Johnson, as fans, players, and the rest of the coaching staff cheered on.
“I’m happy about reaching 1,000 points, even though it was never a goal of mine,” said a humble Faulkner. “It’s cool knowing that I’ve done something that not many people have done at GHS. I’m very appreciative of all three of my coaches. Coach Johnson supports me a lot and that’s something I’m very thankful for, Coach Shrewsbury has been a really good mentor for me and has been very helpful, and Coach Knight knows the game very well and I always make sure I use his advice. My coaches are just amazing people.”
Faulkner also acknowledged his fellow Bearcat cagers because he knows he would not be as successful as he has been throughout his high school career without their support.
“As for my teammates, I am very thankful for them because I share the court with them playing the sport that I love,” he went on to say. “I just hope they realize the opportunity we have in front of us. They are also an amazing group of people.”
In addition to Faulkner’s stellar play, it wasn’t just the senior who played the Eagles closely the rest of the way after the Bearcats’ first-quarter lapse.
Sophomore Ryan Maier also turned in a solid game, scoring 15 points while knocking down (3) three-pointers in the contest. Junior Blake Moore also hit double-digits in scoring, adding 12 points while knocking down a three and coming up big from the free-throw line.
Rounding out the scoring for the Bearcats were Tanner Moats (5), Kaden Delaney (4), and Joe Charlton (2).
Bryson Lucas led the Eagles in scoring with 31 points, followed by Khori Miles with 14 and Gavin Kennedy with 11.
In the earlier JV contest, RCB edged Grafton by the score of 64-58 in OT behind Lleyton Wolfe’s 24 points.
Grafton was led by Justin Spiker who scored a game-high 30 points, followed by Dante Owens’ 10 points. Rounding out the scoring for the Bearcats were Aiden Hartley (4), James Helmondollar (3), and Carson Lambert (2).
Grafton (7-8) will return to action on Monday as they travel to Kingwood to face off against the Preston Knights (7-8).
Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30pm.