Grafton gets past Lincoln, 62-53

Lincoln’s Zach Snider attempts a shot challenged by several Grafton players.


SHINNSTON, W.Va. — With every team aware of its sectional seeding by now, Grafton boys basketball coach Michael Johnson wanted the Bearcats to use Wednesday’s game at Lincoln as a springboard to improve one week before it begins postseason play.

The Bearcats did just that and closed the contest in strong fashion to pull away from the Cougars for a 62-53 victory.

“We talk a lot about playing four minutes at a time, winning four minutes at a time and down the stretch we were able to do that,” Johnson said. “That last four minutes we closed the game well.”

Leading 48-45 approaching the midway point of the fourth quarter, the Bearcats (12-9) got a conventional three-point play from Jack Faulkner to double their advantage with 4:37 left. Ryan Maier scored inside inside to up the advantage to eight, but Lincoln (14-8) answered with a Zach Snider three-pointer to get back to within five.

Snider hit another triple moments later to bring the Cougars to within four — but they’d get no closer.

Faulkner scored on a follow-up in response, and the Bearcats made five free throws over the final 1:05. Lincoln, meanwhile, was held scoreless after Ryan Leep’s layup cut the GHS lead to 57-53.

“We found each other in transition,” Johnson said. “We don’t have size, so when the game is up and down and people try to pressure us, it kind of suits us because of our personnel. Almost all the kids down the floor can handle the basketball and that was key for us down the stretch.”

Neither team led by four throughout the first half, while Grafton overcame an 18-14 deficit to lead 24-23 at halftime after Maier made two free throws with less than a second in the half.

Blake Moore, who led the Bearcats with 11 points at the break, opened the second half with consecutive threes to give his team a seven-point lead.

But the Cougars reeled off nine unanswered points and went back on top at 32-30 on a Payton Hawkins basket inside.

However, Faulkner scored seven points over the remainder of the quarter and beat the buzzer with a triple to send Grafton into the fourth with a 42-36 advantage.

“We felt we were more athletic and could pull the bigs out of the post and make them have to guard out on the perimeter,” Johnson said. “The dribble drive and kick we were able to do more efficiently in the second half.”

Moore led all players with 20 points, while Faulkner poured in 16 second-half points to finish with 19.

“We talked about it at halftime you have to come out really strong right here, take what they give you and take advantage of that,” Johnson said of Faulkner’s aggressive play after halftime. 

Maier went 7-of-8 at the free throw line and contributed 14 points.

Moore and Faulkner also had seven rebounds apiece, helping the Bearcats win the battle of the boards, 34-28.

Snider’s 17 points led Lincoln, while Leep added 12 in defeat. Hawkins finished with eight points, 10 rebounds and five assists.

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