PRINCETON — Trailing for all but the first few minutes of the game the Graham High boys basketball took the lead with four minutes left in the game.
Graham extended the lead to three but the Princeton Tigers went on a 10-0 run to avenge the loss last month in a 68-59 victory at Coach Ralph Ball Court.
“Basketball is a game of runs. We knew they were going to make their run so we had to try and limit it to as small as possible,” Princeton senior point guard Peyton Brown said.
A pair of free throws from Grant Cochran cut the lead to 59-58 before a Brayden Quesenberry layup gave the Tigers (13-5) a lead it would hold onto.
The Princeton defense than took over forcing four turnovers and the offense took advantage of them to extend its winning streak to five games.
Both teams were flying all over the court the entire game and Princeton head coach Robb Williams wanted his team to play harder as they hadn’t done that in the first meeting of the teams.
“We were physical with them and I was very pleased with the team effort,” Williams said.
Down 14 at the half Graham (13-6) battled back with its slowing the Princeton offense while the shots started dropping for the G-Men.
“They played a good first half and I thought we played a good second half,” Graham head coach Todd Baker said. “Just to fight back from 14 down at the half I thought the kids showed a lot of heart so I was real happy.”
The G-Men opened up the game up 7-1 but did not score the rest of the first quarter as Brown scored nine points and the Tigers ended the quarter on a 14-0 run.
“I think we were hyped up about the game going crazy and stuff. Once our adrenaline settled down we started playing ball,” Brown said.
The game sped up in the second quarter with the Princeton defense forcing turnovers and being able to get out in transition.
Defensive stops turning into offense helped the Tigers jump out to a 30-14 lead midway through the second quarter and go to half up 14.
“We just really did a great job at doubling down and they were feeding it down there and we were getting our hands in there getting steals. Just more aggressive, after that lull we just got aggressive,” Williams said.
Brown led the Tigers with 20 points and used his electric speed in transition to zoom past the retreating G-Men for easy baskets.
With everything going Princeton’s way it was punctuated by an alley-pop dunk by Ethan Parsons off a lob from Brown.
“Our team is real dangerous in transition and we’ve got a bunch of weapons,” Brown said. “We been doing it for a while, its amazing when he dunks it. It’s crazy.”
Parsons scored 11 points for the Tigers who had four scorers in double figures with 13 for Quesenberry and 10 for Jon Wellman.
Brown finished the game with five assists and only missed the final minutes of the third quarter after being shaken up.
With Brown running the point he was able to break free whenever Graham tried to press and the G-Men were just trying to deny him getting the inbounds most of the game to prevent him creating shots with his speed.
“I’m very lucky to have Peyton Brown because no one’s been able to press him at all,” Williams said.
Graham could have just folded at the half down double figures but they were able to find ways on both ends of the court for success after the break.
“I was impressed by Graham coming back, they could have folded. It was a hostile environment for them, we had the momentum and they fought hard,” Williams said.
Leading the second half comeback for Graham was Chance Dawson who scored all of his 14 points in the second half.
“Chance got going there second half. He made some shots and we had a little set that was working nice,” Baker said.
David Graves scored seven of his 14 in the third quarter when the G-Men mounted a comeback that brought it within seven going into the fourth.
Forced turnovers and getting in transition helped Graham take the lead in the fourth quarter with under four minutes left on a Marqus Ray layup after a missed Princeton shot.
Ray and Joey Dales each had nine points for the G-Men.
Princeton will look to extend its winning streak Friday when it hosts Greenbrier East whom it lost to earlier in the season. Graham closes out Southwest District play Friday in a home game against Lebanon looking to go undefeated in the district.