Grady guard Robert Windham goes up for a shot in the third quarter of Tuesday’s game at Floyd. (Freedom Newspapers: Kevin Wilson)
By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers
FLOYD — Up and down much of this season, the Floyd Broncos are picking up some late momentum.
Junior guard Jerrod Long converted a pair of free throws with 13 seconds left and Floyd, down by 11 points on two separate occasions before leading by nine late, pulled out a 61-59 non-district victory over Grady Tuesday night.
Long scored 27 points as Floyd (14-11) won its fourth game in a row, including victories over District 3-1A frontrunners Fort Sumner and Melrose. Senior Manny Carrillo added 12 points on four 3-pointers, while junior Brad Lee gave the Broncos a lift in the fourth quarter with a couple of steals, several rebounds and four points.
“Brad played a great fourth quarter,” said Floyd coach Jeff Gillespie, who formerly coached at Grady. “He’s aggressive and fouls a lot, but he got some steals and scored some baskets for us.
“Our motto right now is to finish strong. We didn’t finish strong in the last minute and a half, but we got lucky at the end.”
Senior Jarrod Lindsey scored 26 points for Grady (15-10), which got all its points from its starters and all but one point from four players. Junior Robert Windham and sophomore Steven Carter each finished with 12 points.
“The Lindsey kid is a great kid; I’d take him any time,” Gillespie said.
Grady went on a 9-0 run to end the first quarter with a 21-10 bulge, and led 35-24 after scoring the first basket of the second half.
Floyd rallied back with a 13-3 run, but Grady opened some breathing room on Lindsey’s 3-pointer late in the period.
Down 46-41, Floyd started the final stanza with 12 consecutive points, capped by 3-pointers from Carrillo and Jason Martinez, and extended its lead to 59-50 on two free throws by Kyle Kropf with 2:35 to go.
The Broncos didn’t score again until Long’s deciding free throws, and Grady rallied for seven points from Lindsey and a game-tying bucket from Carter with 51 seconds left.
Floyd ran the clock down before Long’s go-ahead free throws. Grady missed a final shot, and Floyd secured the rebound as time expired.
Grady, which committed 16 of its 20 turnovers in the second half, defeated Floyd by three points during last month’s EPAC Tournament in Texico.
“We’ve played them twice and it’s been a total of five points difference,” said Grady coach Jim Kneipp, whose team is tied with Logan for the District 4-1A lead and facing the possibility of a playoff for the regular-season title this weekend. “Our biggest thing was we turned it over about five or six times (early) in the third quarter. That allowed (Floyd) to get the momentum, and after that it was a dogfight.”
Floyd, which ends its regular season at Dora on Friday, made nine 3-pointers but struggled from beyond the arc for long stretches.
“We live and die by it,” Gillespie said. “Tonight, we almost died.”