Gray Collegiate coach Dion Bethea has yet to watch last year’s state semifinal loss to Keenan.
With the way his team has played in three meetings against the Raiders this season, there is no need to do that. The War Eagles won their third game against Keenan on Friday with a 60-45 victory.
With the win, the War Eagles likely lock up Region 3-2A for the second consecutive year.
Gray swept Keenan in the regular season last year before losing to the Raiders in the 2A Upper State finals.
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Bethea knows Friday’s matchup won’t be the last time he sees Keenan, with a likely fourth matchup down the road in the 2A Upper State finals in Greenville.
“I have learned from last year, for sure. Jalek (Felton) called me today and told me to not hold back anything,” Bethea said. “And I told these guys it was a hurting feeling last year, and moving forward we don’t want to be back in that situation.”
For the second straight game against Keenan, it was close going into the fourth quarter. Dillon Jones’ layup got the Raiders within 39-37 late in the third quarter. But Khalil Robinson was fouled shooting a 3-pointer with 0.1 second left in the third. Robinson hit all three free throws, and the War Eagles continued that momentum into the fourth quarter.
Gray Collegiate held Keenan scoreless for almost half of the fourth and led 50-37 with 4:24 left.
“Every great team makes a run, and Keenan is a good team,” Bethea said. “And we responded. Every run they made, I thought we responded and did a good job. That is what the hard work in practice comes from, so we make sure we can execute down the stretch.”
Tommy Bruner led Gray Collegiate with 15 points, and star forward Juwan Gary added 12, 10 coming in the second half. Center Mike Marsh added 11.
Jones led Keenan with 13 points, and Raekwon Horton added 11.
GCA: Tommy Bruner 15, K. Robinson 8, Rivers 8, J. Robinson 6, Juwan Gary 12, Mike Marsh 11. K: Dillon Jones 13, Sanders 4, Tyler 2, Taylor 4, Watkins 2, Raekwon Horton 11, Stone 6.
Keenan 47, Gray Collegiate 31
GCA: Barkins 10, Patrick 6, Samuel 2, Potts 13. K: Hammond 2, Hickman 19, Davis 2, Woods 3, Taylor 2, Wilson 4, McDaniel 10, Jones 4.