Eldorado's Richard Graceffa came off the bench to lead the Eagles in scoring with 12 points Friday at Duff-Kingston Gymnasium despite falling to the Gallatin County Hawks 42-62.
In front of an eager crowd, Graceffa, a 6-foot-2 sophomore swingman, came up big in the second quarter with eight points, hitting on 4-of-4 free throws.
"He (Graceffa) played well last week at the Vienna Classic and has been a really solid player to have coming off the bench." Eldorado head coach TJ Zurliene said, "But all around, I feel like we put up a good fight until the end. Having to deal with the size difference was our biggest downfall."
The contest between the Eagles and Hawks started without Graceffa, whom had scored 14 points the game before during Eldorado's 44-40 loss in the junior varsity game.
With six players listed on the roster as over 6-foot tall, and 6-foot-11 center Andrew Drone in the paint playing like a D-1 signee ought to, Graceffa drove the lane fearlessly, drawing fouls, hitting free throws and going up strong when needed.
Though what began as a low-scoring, physical match up between the Eagles 6-1 junior center Justin Wiseman and Drone; the beginning of the game quickly escalated into an onslaught of upset coaches, fans and players.
It took a double technical foul in the last moments of the first quarter, called after a tie up between the Hawks; 6-5 forward Wes McGuire, and the Eagles' 5-10 junior guard Tyler Deaton, to mellow the mood.
As Wiseman quickly fell into foul trouble, Eldorado was soon forced to bench their largest player.
As they began to struggle with the Hawks largest player, Drone, who had six points in the first quarter, Patrick Lowe and Dane Hish combined for the rest of the Hawks 15 first quarter points.
However, by the end of the first quarter, the Eagles were still in the game down by only eight points.
Sensing just that, Drone had a huge second quarter scoring double digits to put the Hawks ahead 35-19 at half time.
But the rest of the game belonged to the Hawks.
Though Joel Boulds, a 5-10 senior guard, and Dylan Street, a 5-10 junior guard answered back with a pair of three-pointers in the third quarter, it became evident as to why the Hawks are one of the most highly regarded 1A teams in the state.
The Hawks triple threat combination of Drone, Hish and Lowe, shared all but six of their team's 62 total points.
The Eagles will return to Duff-Kingston Tuesday to play the West Frankfort Redbirds.
"In the games to come, we need limit our turnovers and hit more free throws," Zurliene said. "We've gotten better each game and we need to keep fighting."
Page 2 of 2 - Caleb Motsinger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
GCO 24 3 13 5 -62
ELD 8 5 28 11-42
Gallatin County 2-1 (62)
Lowe 15, McGuire 2, Drone 29, Hish 12, Ramsey 1, Storto 3. 2FG-21, 3FG-3, FT 13-5, Fouls 23.
Eldorado 2-4 (42)
Boulds 9, Deaton 2, Lawrence 2, Wiseman 2, Street 11, Mitchell 1, Graceffa 12, Unthank 3. 2FG-8 3FG-5 FT 28-11, Fouls 18.
GCO JV 15 2 13 8-44
ELD JV 8 7 7 7-40
Gallatin County JV 1-0(44)
Ramsey 12, Russell 13, McGuire 4, Jackson 13, Scates 2. 2FG-15, 3FG 2, FT 13-8, Fouls 11.
Eldorado JV 0-1 (40)
Mayberry 4, Mitchell 4, Graceffa 14, Emery 4, Grisham 3, Collier 3, Burnett 8. 2FG-8, 3FG 7, FT 8-3, Fouls 11.