Fans on both sides got their money’s worth on Friday night when the Graves County Eagles visited the Mayfield Cardinals for the second installment of the “Battle of the Birds.”
Despite a fourth quarter rally that gave the Eagles a scare, Graves County walked away victorious once again, defeating the Cardinals 69-58.
The Eagles have now won nine consecutive games and show no signs of slowing down as senior guard Drew Thompson continued to add to his scoring average, leading Graves over Mayfield with 23 points.
Senior forward John Ben Brown and junior guard Mason Grant also came up huge for the Eagles on the offensive end, scoring 16 and 15 points respectively.
“We have a lot of momentum right now,” Graves County head coach Josh Frick said. “We have guys doing a lot of good things. We want to be playing games, we just haven’t had that opportunity and that showed at times tonight but I’m just proud of my guys. I thought they showed a lot of toughness down the stretch and made winning plays.”
The Cardinals hung tight through one quarter of play, knocking down three triples to trail the Eagles just 15-13 heading into the second frame.
Cardinals senior forward Deangelo Brooks got going offensively in the second quarter with seven points but so did Thompson as the Eagles glided into the halftime break up 32-23 with Thompson already in double figures.
Graves appeared to be coasting through three quarters of play, leading the Cardinals 50-38 heading into the fourth quarter.
Leading by as much as 17 early in the fourth, the Eagles watched their double-digit lead shrink minute by minute as the Cardinals refused to fold.
Mayfield’s Achilles heel reared its ugly head down the stretch though as missed free throws prevented the Cardinals from eclipsing a five-point deficit with three minutes to play.
Mayfield shot 13-28 from the free throw line against Graves County, going 6-14 in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles shot 11-15 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter as they managed to put the Cardinals away for good behind senior play from Brown and Thompson.
Following the Cardinals’ loss, Mayfield head coach Payton Croft said he was proud of his team for fighting until the final buzzer.
“Playing [Graves] the first time allowed us to be more prepared for the second time and playing them the second time will give us even more come game three,” Croft said. “I felt like we got the ball where we wanted to get the ball and our guards did a much better job of handling their run and jump. There was a stretch in the second quarter where we had some guys who didn’t handle it as well and they made that little run on us. But we withstood it, we battled it and our guys never quit playing, and we’re not going to. We’re going to keep fighting, that’s how I am as a coach and that’s how my teams are going to be. That’s a testament to them as kids, for never giving in and never giving up. If we continue to do that we’ll get better.”
Graves 15 17 18 19 69
Mayfield 13 10 15 20 58
Graves: Thompson 23, Brown 16, Grant 15, Isaiah 9, Flint 5, Pigg 1.
Field goals: 20-39. 3-pointers: 4-10 (Thompson 2, Flint and Isaiah). Free throws: 25-32. Rebs: 23. Ast: 9. TO: 11. Fouls: 18. Record: 13-4.
Mayfield: Kennemore 15, Brooks 13, Richards 11, Fulton 6, Stone 5, Dabney 4, Gammons 2, Morris 2.
Field goals: 20-40. 3-pointers: 5-12 (Kennemore 2, Fulton, Richards and Stone). Free throws: 13-28. Rebs: 25. Ast: 4. TO: 17 Fouls: 16. Record: 8-6.