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Graford teams sweep competition at Garner

Jan. 16—GARNER — Facing off against the Garner Longhorns in a pair of district basketball games, both the Graford Rabbits boys and girls varsity squads came and conquered. On a below-freezing Tuesday night, the teams battled indoors on the hardwood as the Graford boys emerged victorious by a final score of 81-18 while the Lady Rabbits scored a 65-9 win.

The Lady Rabbits, who were led by Ashley Crawford's game-high 18 points, raced out to a 36-5 lead at halftime and continued to extend its lead through stifling defense, good scoring on the break and aggression in attacking the glass. Graford's 6-foot-2 junior post Kamryn Glover helped that cause with quality scoring on the interior, which resulted in a 13-point night.

Garner put forth admirable effort on both sides of the ball, but could not generate offense against a highly experienced Graford team. Wendee Phillips led Garner with five points while Aaleyah Crews, who took on much of the ball handling responsibilities for Garner, finished with three.

The Lady Rabbits (21-5, 5-2) will take the court again at 6 p.m. Friday at Woodson. Meanwhile, the Lady Longhorns (10-12, 0-5) will be back in action at 6 p.m. Friday at home against Throckmorton.

Meanwhile, the two-time defending state champion boys basketball team followed the girls game, and the Graford boys sprinted out to a large early lead and kept pressing forward in their 81-18 triumph.

"We have a tradition at Graford and they want to keep winning and being that team that keeps on going," Graford head basketball coach Jeff Bell said. "They work really hard every day, they're great kids, I push them hard and they accept it. Sometimes, we don't look that way, but we try to keep our bellies empty."

Even after winning state championships in the last two consecutive years, Bell's squad was hungry on both sides of the court. The Graford defense forced numerous turnovers and turned those into easy scoring opportunities. The scrappy play and relentlessness on defense and offense pushed Graford ahead 40-6 at halftime, but regardless of the game and opponent, Bell wants to keep seeing his team play with consistency in both their preparation and their play on the court.

"We've got a process that we do, and we try to go through the process — the outcome will take care of itself," Bell said. "We take every opponent seriously, we want the effort to be the same — of course we have some bigger games than others — but we strive to keep them all up top as much as we can."

Brad Lemley led Graford with 22 points while Christian Shea netted 21 for the Rabbits. Cye Lemley and Connor Waters scored 10 apiece as well. Garner freshman Brayden Martinez performed well for the home team with a team-high 13 points while junior post Daylen Miller competed well defensively on the interior and had four points.

Graford (17-4, 5-0) will play again at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Woodson. The Longhorns (2-9, 0-3) are set to compete again at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 26, at home against Woodson.