With flowers, wide smiles and even a few tears, the Busy Bee Band & Honey Bees celebrated Senior Night Tuesday at East Fairmont High School.
The Bee basketball team, meanwhile, struggled to find the rhythm early, picked up the tempo, nearly forced an encore, but ended up falling just a little bit flat, as Grafton defeated East Fairmont to the tune of 58-54.
“I’m proud of our guys’ effort,” said East Fairmont coach Tyrone Asterino. “We got back in the game, but we came up short.”
After trailing by as many as 11 points, the Bees (8-11) had the ball out of bounds with 25 seconds remaining, trailing by three.
They inbounded it to Brennon Vincent at the top of the key, but his 3-pointer was just off the mark. He scurried to grab the loose rebound and again put up a 3 that skipped off the rim.
Grafton (11-8) missed the front half of a 1-and-1, leaving the door open for the Bees. But the third time was not the charm for East Fairmont.
Junior guard Ryan Bower missed another 3-pointer and Grafton hit a foul shot to close out the game.
“We stuck around. We didn’t put our heads down. We came back,” said sophomore guard Nick Greely, who paced the Bees with 24 points and six rebounds.
“But we still would have liked to have won,” he added.
The loss spoiled what was yet another solid performance from Greely. He has steadily shown improvement throughout the season and played with more confidence in the paint as a result.
“He’s playing extremely well,” Asterino said. “I think it’s a maturation process. Stuff that was said over and over and over, I think it’s sinking in. I think he’s making better decisions on the floor and quicker plays on the floor.”
Greely was joined in double figures by Vincent, who had 13. Myles Johnson cleaned up on the boards, pulling down nine rebounds to go along with his six points. Ronnie Mills scored seven points and Colton Toothman rounded it out with four.
While the Bees missed several 3-pointers that could have tied the game, the Bearcats built their early lead thanks in large part to the deep ball, with nine of their 19 field goals coming from beyond the arc.
“We have good shooters and we try to get a lot of open looks,” said Grafton coach Andy Sorine. “When they’re hitting, we’re a really good team.”
Junior guard Mitchel Crutchfield hit three of the Bearcats’ 3-pointers to finish with 11 points. Sophomore guard Chris Smith added another 3-pointer to the tally on his way to scoring 11. Even Grafton’s big man and leading scorer Skylar Rucker nailed a 3-pointer from well beyond the arc. He finished with 18 points.
The Bees will close out the season Thursday when they host Webster County. They will then square off with North Marion in the Region I, Section I playoffs.
Email Mike DeFabo at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @MikeDeFaboTWV.