Gray Collegiate and Keenan have developed one of the best rivalries in high school basketball in a short period of the time.
The Class 2A powers met for the fifth time in a year Friday night and showcased why they deserve the billing as two of the top programs in the state. This time it was a dominant fourth quarter that propelled Gray Collegiate to a 54-44 victory in the Region 3-2A opener at Allen University.
Juwan Gary scored 15 points, Khalil Robinson added 14 and Tommy Bruner chipped in with 11 as the War Eagles won for the fourth time in those five meetings.
“Every time we play them, you see something different that you have to go back and prepare the next time we play them. I think we did a good job adjusting over the break to doing something different that they hadn’t seen before,” Gray Collegiate coach Dion Bethea said. “I’m super proud of the way we came out and played the second half.”
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It was a combination of a zone defense by the War Eagles and Keenan running out of steam after three quarters that proved to be the difference. It was tied at 42 entering the final quarter but the zone created problems for the Raiders after they shot nearly 70 percent (18-of-26) for three quarters.
Gray Collegiate (11-4) held a 12-2 advantage during the final eight minutes. Keenan (8-4) went 1-for-10 from the field in the fourth quarter and didn’t score for nearly five and half minutes.
Keenan coach Zach Norris said that came from a lack of conditioning that he expects to be there later in the season.
“We ran out of steam. We’re not in good shape yet, but they’re coming. I was real impressed with the way we played tonight,” Norris said. “They threw a little zone on us, but I think our legs were worn out. Normally, we beat the zone down the floor, but we were just worn out. Once we get in a little better shape, we’ll be there.”
Ty Rivers hit a jumper to begin the fourth quarter to give the War Eagles the lead for good. Gary hit a layup, Michael Marsh scored and Gary finished off the 8-point spurt with an offensive stick back that made it 50-42 with three minutes remaining.
Bethea though the zone would be a difference-maker.
“I knew once we went up, we could sit in that zone,” he said. “They have one or two guys that can shoot the basketball. The other guys do a great job setting them up, but the zone helped us.”
Dillon Jones scored 18 points for Keenan. The Raiders led by as many as nine points in the first half, but turnovers in the second quarter allowed Gray Collegiate to trim the lead to 26-22 at the half.
In the girls contest, Keenan jumped on top early and cruised to a 50-30 victory. Ja’Diamond Hickman scored 24 points to lead the attack for the Raiders and Logan Taylor-McDaniel chipped in with 14.
Gray Collegiate 54, Keenan 44
K – Dillon Jones 18, Ervin Stone 10, Horton 8, Taylor 6, Sanders 2. GC – Juwan Gary 15, Khalil Robinson 14, Tommy Bruner 11, Rivers 4, Jenkins 4, J. Robinson 3, Corbitt 3.
Keenan 50, Gray Collegiate 30
K – Ja’Diamond Hickman 24, Logan Taylor-McDaniel 14, Woods 5, Jones 4, Taylor 3. GC – Caitlyn Barkins 12, Addi Potts 11, Islas-Jimenez 3, Shoop 2.