Cardinals fall to No. 5 Graford

PHIL RIDDLE phil.riddle@empiretribune.com Twitter @ETSports
Lingleville's Colbe Stoker scored a team-high 16 against Graford Tuesday in the 65-55 Cardinals' playoff loss.

A pair of second quarter runs proved to be too much for Lingleville to overcome as the Cardinals fell to No. 5 Grady 65-55 in the Class A regional quarterfinals Tuesday night in Eastland.

The Widlcats, after falling behind early 7-0, exploded to a 34-17 halftime advantage.

“It was 14-13 at the end of the first,” said LHS coach Kade Eckert. “They had two big runs in the second and they went on a 17-2 run to end the half."

Eckert said the Cardinals, save for early in the playoff matchup, let the Wildcats dictate the speed of the game.

“In the first quarter we did a really good job of slowing the tempo,” he said. “We just didn’t do that in the second quarter and it just got out of hand.”

The second half began mush the same as the first half had – with a Lingleville run.

Opening with an 11-0 streak the Cardinals closed to gap to 34-28 before Grady responded with a run of its own, ending the third holding a 46-32 margin.

A furious comeback in the final eight minutes drew the Cards to within four at 50-46 with under four minutes to play. But that was as close as Grady would allow them to come.

Junior Colbe Stoker led the Cardinals offensively, connecting on three field goals, a pair of 3-pointers and four of five free throws for 16 points. Tim Griffin added 11 and Bailey Fenn contributed 10.

“It was a very physical game,” Eckert said. “I’m very proud of our guys, with everything we’ve been through this year.

“I always tell our guys that I want the last time we touch the court every year to be the best we’ve played all season. I can truly say that for the third straight year, our last game of the season has been the best game of our season.”

The Cardinals finish the season at 27-6. Graford, 28-3, faces Miller Grove Friday in the regional semifinals.