Grimes scores 14 in the fourth to seal RFA basketball win
ROME — When the team's lead was in jeopardy, Uzziah Grimes of Rome Free Academy took over and scored 14 fourth quarter points to get the Black Knights past visiting Whitesboro 52-37 in Tri-Valley League boys basketball Tuesday.
RFA stormed out of the gates, knocking down four first quarter three-pointers and ending on a 12-point run to lead 19-7. The Knights maintained that lead going into the half, up 28-16.
"Started out a little slow," said Whitesboro head coach Garrett Herthum after the game. "Took us a few minutes to get used to the pace RFA likes to play at." He said the team improved in the second quarter. "We just couldn't convert," in large part due to the speed of the game.
The Warriors started to figure out the RFA defense coming out of the break, chipping away until they trailed 33-32 with seconds left in the third. But Deandre Neal drilled a long range three at the buzzer to put RFA up 36-32.
Then Grimes went off. He hit a free throw followed by back-to-back threes then later added back-to-back shots and the team's final points with another three-pointer. He had scored seven points going into the fourth en route to a 21-point night.
"I had to step up," said Grimes, a sophomore, after the win. "They were playing back on me."
The win came without freshman point guard Surafia Norries, who was out sick.
RFA head coach Nick Medicis said Whitesboro's halftime adjustments "caused us some issues," and though the Knights had good looks they weren't hitting shots, which let the Warriors back in the game. "It was a huge shot by Deandre at the end of the third," he said of the three-pointer that gave the team some breathing room.
The game was a clash of styles, Medicis noted. "They want to play slow and we want to play fast. Credit to guys like Uzziah." Medicis had called a timeout with the team up by five early in the fourth and Grimes headed to the foul line. The sophomore knocked down one free throw then hit the two threes for his own seven-point run. Medicis said his message during the timeout was: "Continue to shoot and make the smart play."
RFA is now 4-7, but, Medicis said, "we're getting better." The team had dropped six in a row but has won its last two. The Knights, he noted, have three losses by one possession.
Grimes said the team has been improving by cutting down on turnovers and taking more charges. "People are stepping up," he said. But, "we still need a little more work." If the team wants to make the postseason and win there, it will take better defense and slowing down on offense when needed.
The Knights host Oneida at 6:30 p.m. Friday in league play.
Whitesboro falls to 3-7 on the season. "We're playing better," said Herthum, who noted that the Warriors need to close out games when they're in them late.
Whitesboro travels to TVL foe Vernon-Verona-Sherrill at 7 p.m. Friday.
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