Bulldogs keep win streak alive with win over Grainger

Published 8:00 am Sunday, February 14, 2016

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For the Hampton Bulldogs, their twelfth straight win did not come easy.

In a game that can be narrowed down to two big shots, the ’Dogs (21-6, 9-1) slipped past Class AA Grainger County 58-54 during an overtime thriller inside VanHuss White Gym Saturday night.

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The first big shot came in the last seconds of the fourth quarter. With the Bulldogs down 47-44, Hampton senior Coby Jones dropped in a heavily-guarded trey to tie the game up with just four seconds on the clock. The Grizzlies could not answer and the game went into overtime tied at 47.

“I was praying at every break,” Jones said. “Coach had a good play drawn up. He brought me off of a screen and I got some space. And I was thankful to be able to knock that shot down to send us into overtime.”

The next crucial shot came in the final moments of overtime. With the game tied at 54, after Grainger’s Nathan Hayes knocked down a trey. As the clocked ticked down, Hampton’s Adam McClain drove in from the three-point line and laid in a tough layup to put Hampton up by two leaving just a second on the clock. Grainger was given a technical for calling a timeout without having any left. The Bulldogs were given two technical free throws, for which Jones made both. The officials had 2.6 second put back on the clock. Hampton in bounded the ball and ran the clock down to seal the win.

“We were trying to set a screen for Coby,” McClain said about the play that set up his big layup. “I seen a little hole open after they were guarding him, and I just took it.”

Jones led the Bulldogs with 24 points, while Nathan Norris and Wyatt Lyons both followed up with eight each.

The opening quarter was just as close as the later stages of the game. In the first frame, Hampton rained in five 3-pointers, with seniors Jones and Norris hitting two each and Chris Holtsclaw dropping one in. After one quarter of play, Hampton led 19-17 heading into the second.

Jones hit a three and Wyatt Lyons made a bucket to open the second quarter to put Hampton up 24-17. But Grainger quickly closed the gap to two points with a trifecta and two foul shots . Down the stretch, the Bulldogs posted a 6-2 run that was capped off with Jones tipping in a missed shot at the buzzer to give Hampton a 30-24 lead heading into the half.

In the third quarter, Jones posted four points, while Lyons and Jose Velazquez each provided a bucket to help the Bulldogs take a 38-32 lead into the fourth.

In the fourth, Grainger out scored Hampton 13-7 to go up 47-44 with less than a minute to play before Jones nailed his game-tying three.

With the Bulldogs getting ready to head into the postseason, head coach Ned Smith said non-conference games like Saturday night’s are just what the Bulldogs need to get ready for tough tournament match ups.

“This was really good for us heading into tournament,” he said. “Our kids stepped up and made big shots and his kids stepped up and made big shots. We got some scenarios in, and this was really good for us playing a top-notch team from AA.”

Hampton will pick things back up on Monday with a trip to Unicoi.

Hampton 58, Grainger 54

Grainger (54)

Hayes 13, Warner 12, Field 9, McBee 8, Bunch 5, Conn 3, Robinson 2, Brooks 2. Hampton (58)

Jones 24, Norris 8, Lyons 8, McClain 7, Velazquez 4, Crumley 4, Holtsclaw 3.

Grainger 17 7 10 13 7 OT — 54

Hampton 19 11 8 9 11 OT — 58

3pt goals— Grainger 7 (Hayes 3, Bunch 1, McBee 1, Field 1, Conn 1) Hampton 7 (Jones 4, Norris 2, Holtsclaw 1).