Region 1C Champions

Region 1C Champions

THE PM boys basketball players celebrate with their fans after defeating George Wythe 54-41 in the Region 1C semifinals to clinch a berth in the Class 1 state tournament. (Stephanie Mikels Blevins photo)

Region 1C Champions

Surrounded by two George Wythe players, PM junior guard Talen Roberts looks for a teammate to pass to. Roberts had nine points and two steals. (Stephanie Mikels Blevins photos)

Region 1C Champions

Showing his school spirit as one of the fans who had his upper torso painted blue in the Blues’ home regional semifinal game, PM student fan Aaron Pruett cheers for the Blues. Joining him his dedicated fan Robert “Apple” Henson (far right).

Region 1C Champions

Fighting Blue sophomore guard Ryan Perry dribbles down the court while George Wythe’s Channing Blevins defends him. Perry scored all of his points from the free throw line in the fourth quarter, going 11-of-12.(Stephanie Mikels Blevins photo)

Region 1C Champions

PM head coach Mike Cartolaro talks to his players during a timeout in the Blues’ 48-41 regional quarterfinal home win over Grayson County.

Region 1C Champions

PM junior guard Will Dunlap drives toward the basket while Grayson County head coach Josh Perry (back right), a 2014 PM graduate who played for the Blues and used to be an assistant, looks on. Josh is the older brother of Ryan. (Ronnie Coffey photos)

Region 1C Champions

FIGHTING BLUE junior guard Ethan Moore takes the ball down the court while Grayson County’s Holden Cassell defends him. (Ronnie Coffey photo)

Parry McCluer Boys Edge Auburn, Head To State Tourney

Making clutch free throws and stops down the stretch, the Parry McCluer High School boys basketball team defeated Auburn 44-42 in the Region 1C championship game on Saturday night at George Wythe High School in Wytheville.

Talen Roberts made two free throws with 7.4 seconds to lift the Fighting Blues (20-6) to victory over the Eagles (20-6) in a matchup of top seeds in the crowded and noisy gym. This was the the Blues’ first regional title since 1995. PM entered the regional tournament in the Pioneer District’s No. 1 slot, while the Eagles earned the top position from the Mountain Empire.

Auburn ended the Blues’ season with a 55-53 defeat in the regional semifinals last year and went on to claim the regional championship, but the story was different this time.

Praising his players for battling from start to finish to get the win on Saturday, PM head coach Mike Cartolaro said, “The kids have been really good about sticking with the game plan. We had to control the tempo. We didn’t want [Auburn] to get out and run.”

In a game that was close the whole way, Auburn led 12-9 after the first quarter, but the Blues tied the contest at 22-22 at halftime. The Blues went up 36-30 at the end of the third quarter, but Auburn went on a 9-0 run to take the lead back midway through the fourth quarter.

After a couple of minutes without scoring from either team, Spencer Hamilton made a 3-pointer to put PM up 42-40 with 1:14 left. Michael Royal tied the game on an inside shot. Auburn stole the ball on PM’s next position, but Roberts stole it back and was fouled, setting up his game-winning free throws.

“Heck of a game,” Cartolaro said. “That’s the way a championship should be. Auburn’s very good. We’ll enjoy this one for a day and then go back to work for the next one.”

Hamilton said winning the regional title “feels great. We don’t want to be cocky about it, but we knew if we stuck with it, we’d be in it.” He said the Eagles were tough because of their physicality and their shooting ability, so the Blues made sure to guard their shooters.

The 6-foot-9-inch Hamilton led the Blues with 18 points, making four 3-pointers, and had seven rebounds and four blocks, playing with four fouls in the fourth quarter. “Tournament time, his game’s gone up,” Cartolaro said of the sophomore.

Roberts and Dunlap added eight points apiece, each hitting a 3-pointer. Ryan Perry chipped in five points, sinking one triple, and John Snider scored four points and took three charges. Dunlap pulled down seven rebounds.

Ethan Millirons led Auburn with 19 points, making two 3-pointers, but Roberts kept him from doing too much damage. “Talen’s just been terrific guarding everybody’s best player,” Cartolaro said. “Millirons had to work for everything he got.”

Royal added nine points for the Eagles, and Daniel Brotherton chipped in eight.

In the Class 1 state quarterfinals, in their first state tournament appearance since 2013, the Blues will take on Region 1D runner-up Grundy on Friday at 7 p.m. at Rockbridge County High School. Admission is $10. For tournament updates, visit www.thenews-gazette.com.

Pleased with the progress of his young team, Cartolaro, in his fourth year coaching the Blues, said, “It’s just been fun. They have just really shown a lot of maturity since the beginning of the year. We battled through the region. We had a couple of setbacks late.” Cartolaro mentioned a 44-42 loss to Eastern Montgomery on Feb. 14 in the regular-season finale and a 50-46 loss to Narrows in the district championship on Feb 21. He said his players “had great resolve” to bounce back and win the regional touranement. “All credit to the kids.”

PM 54, GW 41

The Blues defeated George Wythe 54-41 in the Region 1C semifinals on Friday night in Buena Vista. With the win, the Blues clinched a berth in the state tournament

Coming through in the clutch for PM on Friday was Ryan Perry, who scored all of his points from the free throw line in the fourth quarter, going 11-of-12 to help the Blues pull away.

Hamilton overcame foul trouble to lead the Blues with 17 points, three 3-pointers, 11 rebounds and three blocks. Hamilton picked up his fourth foul early in the fourth quarter, but stayed in for most of the rest of the game. “We fought through foul trouble,” Cartolaro said. “We had to manage that the best we could.”

Dunlap added 13 points and 11 boards for PM, Roberts had nine points and two steals, and Ethan Moore had four points and four assists.

Avery Mabe led the Maroons (17-9), the No. 2 seed from the Mountain Empire District, with 12 points, while Peyton Coe added 10 points and Dorrien McMillan chipped in eight points before going out with an injury early in the game.

Cartolaro said the Blues did a good job containing GW’s shooters, as the Maroons made just three 3-poitners. “They’re a really good threepoint shooting team,” he said. “We’re a help team defensively, but we really tried to stay more honed on the shooters.”

PM 48, GC 41

PM used a last-minute run to put away Grayson County, earning a 48-41 win in the Region 1C quarterfinals in Buena Vista on Tuesday of last week.

Leading 41-39 with under a minute to play, the Fighting Blues outscored the Blue Devils 7-2 in the final 43 seconds, hitting 5-of-6 free throws down the stretch and forcing a pair of crucial Grayson turnovers.

Hamilton paced PM with 20 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. Dunlap added 10 points and four assists for the Blues, while Roberts and Perry tallied eight points apiece. Andrew Shaffner and Chase Pope each scored 12 points for the Blue Devils (9-14).

With PM leading by just two points, Perry hit the first of two foul shots with 42.8 seconds to go. Grayson rebounded the missed second shot, but Hamilton stole the ball away and hit a layup to make it 44-39.

Roberts then came up with a takeaway, converting two more free throws to push the margin to 46-39 with only 27.3 seconds left.

“It comes down to making some plays,” Cartolaro said. “Both of them [the two steals in the final minute], that’s huge.”

Though they needed to come up big in the clutch to secure the victory, the Blues led almost from start to finish. PM rolled off 14 straight points – including 11 in a row from Hamilton – to open up a 14-1 lead less than five minutes into the game.

But the Blue Devils, who came in as the No. 4 seed from the Mountain Empire, clawed their way back. Grayson utilized its interior size to put together a significant advantage on the glass, outrebounding the Blues 32-20. Micah Brown hauled in a teambest nine rebounds and also scored four points.

Coached by former PM standout Josh Perry, the Blue Devils seemed to have a solid game plan in place.

“Disappointed in our rebounding. I thought we got caught up watching, and not going after it,” Cartolaro said. “You’ve got to give them credit, too. I thought Josh had them ready to play.”

PM owned a 27-19 edge at halftime, but the Blue Devils held the Blues without a field goal for the first seven minutes of the third period, trimming the margin to 30-27 late in the quarter.

Grayson tied things up at 37-37 on Pope’s 3-pointer at the 2:15 mark of the final frame. The Blue Devils had a one-and-one chance and several offensive rebounds, but were unable to convert for the go-ahead points. Dunlap then put PM back in front for good on a bucket with 2:02 to go.

Even though the Blues came in as the top seed from the Pioneer, they were taken down to the wire by the lowest qualifying seed from the Mountain Empire. As a veteran of high school hoops, with four state championships on his resume, Cartolaro wasn’t surprised.

“We expected this. I don’t think you look at the seeds right now,” the PM coach said. “It’s a new season.”

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