by tate russell
sun sports writer
NEW TAZEWELL - A late-season rash of injuries finally caught up with Greeneville Saturday night.
The top-seeded Devils, who have been playing short-handed for the past couple of weeks, were dealt their first loss by a district opponent this season as No. 4 seed Grainger pulled a 65-57 upset in the semifinals of the District 2-AA tournament at Claiborne High School.
"We showed a lack of intensity out of the blocks and we didn't maintain intensity throughout," Greeneville head coach Brad Woolsey said. "(Grainger coach Derrick) Combs did a really great job of taking our two best players out of the game and I didn't make the adjustments to it."
The loss pits the Greene Devils against Cumberland Gap in the consolation game Tuesday at 6:30 at Claiborne and will send them on the road to open the region tournament.
"I believe we can still make some noise in the tournament. To get where we want to go we were going to have to go through one of the top seeds (from district 1-AA) now we just have to do it on the road and in the first round."
The Greene Devils' offense started the contest slow and that ultimately decided their fate. Greeneville found good looks and got their shots off but they simply were not falling. They managed only two made field goals in the opening period and seven minutes elapsed between them.
The Grizzlies were able to work the glass early as they built a 13-4 lead at the end of first quarter.
The Greene Devils desperately needed an offensive spark going into the second quarter. Quan Harrison gave them just that as the reserve guard single handedly more than doubled Greenville's point production in the first minute of the second quarter.
Harrison opened the second quarter with a triple from the left wing then followed with a jumper from the top of the lane to close the gap to six. He would later sink a trey from the right side to make it a two point game.
Harrison finished the game with 13 points, five assists and no turnovers.
"He played great and was a real bright spot for us tonight. We're excited about him and excited about what he can do for us from here on."
Late in the second quarter Jake Grady found confidence in his stroke and a spot he liked deep in the right as he connected on a pair from behind the arc to send the Greene Devils into intermission down 25-24.
The two teams traded baskets throughout the third quarter with neither team able to pull away. After Harrison cut through the lane and laid one in to cut it to two. The Grizzlies Darvel Walker sank a field goal with eight seconds remaining in the quarter.
On Greeneville ensuing trip up the court Harrison found Grady in the right corner once again, and as the buzzer sounded Grady sank a triple to make score 39-38 in Grainger's advantage.
In the fourth quarter Raheem Young came off the bench and sank a triple from the top of the key to tie things at 41 with 6:35 remaining.
Walker knocked in one of two from the charity stripe for the Grizzlies then Greeneville forward Jacob Cobble drove the lane and laid one off the glass to give the Greene Devils their first lead at 43-42 with 6:10 remaining.
Just as quickly the Greene Devils claimed the lead Grainger took it right back. Bailey Lamb flicked in a pair of three pointers for the Grizzlies to put them up by five points.
"Grainger made shots. It's not just about what we didn't do; Grainger played a really great game. They executed, they finished inside they played really well." Woolsey said. "They hit the big shots when they needed to and their big guys inside finished."
The effort and energy Greeneville expended in their comeback ended up being too much for the Greene Devils to maintain as senior leaders, Cobble and Cory Waddell made early exits because of foul limitations. The Grizzlies made eight trips to the free throw line in the final two minutes and went 11-16 which was efficient enough to keep them in front.
Lamb led Grainger with 15 points and were very balanced with five players in double figures. Logan Bates had 12, Thomas Moran 11, Cory Bates 10 and Trey Cabbage 10