EMORY, Va. – The Grundy boys basketball team has earned statewide respect this season, but Golden Wave coach Brian Looney is not concerned.
“We tell our kids not to pay any attention to polls, because it means nothing in the end,” Looney said.
Fans around far Southwest Virginia have been buzzing this week after Grundy maintained its No. 1 ranking among all Class 1 teams in the VirginiaPreps.com poll.
The Golden Wave protected that mark Tuesday with a 65-48 decision over the Patrick Henry Rebels.
Six-foot-seven junior Cade Looney led Grundy (16-3) with 27 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks.
So were the Grundy players aware of the state poll?
“We’ve had people tell us about it, but we just try to stay grounded,” Cade Looney said.
The Golden Wave faced a new challenge Tuesday as PH employed a 1-3-1 zone.
“We haven’t played against that defense this season,” Coach Looney said. “We thought that we were ready for it, but Patrick Henry did a very good job.”
The Rebels (8-12) trailed only 20-16 with 4:45 left in the first half, and were within 42-36 at the 1:27 mark of the third quarter.
Looney took over in the fourth quarter, collecting four straight hoops in the paint. He averages 25 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks.
“I worked really hard in the off-season and I feel like I’ve expanded my game,” Cade Looney said. “My niche is working inside, and I’ve tried to handle the ball and shoot more.”
Corey Keene, who signed to play at Emory & Henry College on Monday, collected 13 points for Grundy and 6-1 senior guard Jake McCoy added 11.
Cody Smith paced PH with 11 points, as the Rebels continually attacked the interior of the Grundy defense.
“Our kids knew that we were facing one of the top teams in the state and we played toe-to-toe with them,” PH coach Fred Selfe said. “That’s all I can ask.”
Selfe said his version of the 1-3-1 came from PH travel ball coach Shawn Miller.
“We’ve got the kids that can make it work,” Selfe said. “I’ve got a lot of [seven] seniors and they want change in the program, for this year and in the future.”
The Rebels earned a standing ovation after forcing Grundy to take a timeout in the second half.
“I think our fans see how much our players and coaches care about the program,” Selfe said.
The Golden Wave established a single-season school record for wins last season with a 23-3 mark.
“The kids are dedicated to our off-season program, and I think we’re a better team in all areas,” Coach Looney said.
Keene averaged 15 points, while McCoy follows at 13 ppg.
So does Coach Looney expected to see more zone defenses?
“That’s a possibility, Looney said. “We cause a lot of matchup problems when teams play us man-to-man. “
Parry McCluer, led by former Virginia High coach Mike Cartolaro, is ranked second among Class 1 teams with Lancaster and Auburn next in line.
Patrick Henry 55, Grundy 41
The opening game turned into a curtain call for PH point guard Kaycee Deskins.
A 5-foot-3 leader and four-year starter, Deskins scored 12 points and directed the offense in style on Senior Night.
“I’ve enjoyed my role,” Deskins said. “It’s not that hard to play point guard on a team that has so many unselfish players.
Junior Breanna Yarber led the Rebels (19-2) with 24 points, benefiting from clever Deskin passes in transition. Sophomore guard Payton Monahan added 14 points.
“I’d rather make a good pass than hit a shot. And ever since my freshman year, I’ve had talented teammates to pass to,” Deskins said.
The Rebels (19-2) opened a 21-7 lead at the 1:45 mark of the first quarter and gradually built their margin. Grundy (15-4) was paced by 5-4 senior Mashayla Belcher and 5-3 senior Maggie Deel, who scored 12 points apiece.