The Graceville Tigers gave the crowd at Grand Ridge Middle School their money’s worth Saturday night. The Tigers were hungry not only for a district championship but to avenge an earlier season 47-44 loss to Holmes County, the very team they had to beat for the championship. Ironically, the three-point loss just one month ago, was the same margin of victory the Tigers recorded in their 44-41 win to claim the district championship. The championship was won under the leadership of first year head coach Justin Miles. The Tigers finished the regular season 19-5 and 8-1 in district and swept through the district championship.
The first quarter set the tone for the game with the two teams knotting it up at six points each. The Blue Devils pulled away briefly but the determined Tigers battled back. At the end of one it was a slight Holmes County advantage 13-11. Coach Miles had just the right words at the quarter break and it reflected on the scoreboard with the Tigers posting nine points while their defense held the Blue Devils to five points. At the halfway mark, the game was proving to equal its billing of a nail-biter. Graceville had the slight advantage 20-18.
Graceville came out with momentum on their side in the third quarter and outscored Holmes County 14-11 with a pair of threes off the hands of Sam Wesley helping their cause. C.J. Smith had a bucket and a pair of free throws to add in the third quarter. The fourth quarter had the crowd on their feet. Holmes County rallied with 12 points but it was the Tigers countering with 10 to keep the lead and preserve the win for the championship.
Leading the Tigers on the night was Derrick White who was consistent all night with two in the first, second, and third quarters, before turning it up a notch in the fourth with seven points. On board with 10 points was C.J. Smith, followed by Eric Peterson with seven points. Sam Wesley and Xavian Sorey both had six points each.
Following the game, an elated coach Miles said, “I couldn’t be more proud of the guys. They have played their butts off all year, not different tonight. They never get too high or too low. It was a great team win. That was one of our goals this year, but not our biggest one. I’m glad they were able to accomplish that one.”
Graceville will return to the friendly confines of their home court Thursday night when they take on Paxton in their quest to get to the state playoffs.
The staff at the TIMES congratulates the Graceville Tigers, their school, administration, and fans on their district championship.