By Marty O'Brien, firstname.lastname@example.org
12:37 AM EST, December 12, 2013
NEW KENT — If this is rebuilding, Grafton High is constructing a solid and good-looking foundation to the 2013-14 boys basketball season. Doing a variety of things well Wednesday, the Clippers blew out host New Kent 90-51 in an early matchup of district unbeatens.
New Kent (2-1, 2-1 district) won its first two games last week in large part because it made 19 shots behind the 3-point arc, including 12 of 25 in a win against Jamestown. On Wednesday, the Clippers (3-0, 3-0) were slightly better than that, going 13 of 25 from beyond the arc.
But it was their respective starts from the outside that was a big difference. Grafton was 9 of 14 from the 3-point arc from the opening tip to midway through the third quarter.
New Kent, by contrast, was 4 of 21 during that span. Grafton led at that point 65-40.
"Live by the 3 die by the 3, I guess," New Kent coach Ronnie Cox said. "Grafton is a talented team and they shoot well.
"They put us on our heels and we couldn't catch up."
Grafton coach Jeremy Jordan said, "We've got five or six kids who can hit the 3 on a given night, and they've gotten a lot of reps in the gym and are starting to get comfortable."
The Clippers began the season having to replace Elijah Moore, Tyler McMillan and Jesse Santiago, who will go down in program lore as three of the best players ever after leading the Clippers to consecutive state finals. Their replacements have plenty of potential.
McMillan's successor, Joey Miller, has moved from shooting guard to point guard, where he had 13 points and 10 assists at New Kent. He ran the floor adroitly from the start, as the Clippers surged to an 11-0 lead.
"We want to go out and throw the first punch early," Miller said. "We did that tonight, scoring 27 points in the first quarter and holding them to 14.
Jordan said, "Ten assists. That just doesn't happen often in high school."
Isaiah Moore and Evan Sperling have sort of taken over the Santiago and Elijah Moore roles inside, although Isaiah showed some of his brother's touch from 15 feet at New Kent. Isaiah, who scored sparingly in his sixth-man role last year, had 16 points.
"Isaiah is a three-year varsity player and he understands his role has changed," Jordan said of the senior's added responsibility. "He played like it tonight."
Of 6-foot-5 junior Sperling's 13 points and 13 rebounds, Jordan said, "He was a beast."
While Sperling, Moore and Miller played key roles last year, wing Preston Kiedinger and freshman guard Cle'von Greene are varsity newcomers. Kiedinger made four 3s at New Kent and it could've been seven had three not rimmed out.
Green's only basket on a quiet scoring night was a 3, but he contributed eight assists and eight rebounds. Blake Kelley was a bright spot for New Kent, with three 3-pointers among his 16 points.
But otherwise it was all Grafton, which won its 49th district game in its past 50 tries.
"I don't know how you can say Grafton's down, they're just good," Cox said. "They're undefeated, so I'm not sure what else it would take to say 'They're not down.' "
GRAFTON 90, NEW KENT 51
GRAFTON (3-0, 3-0): Sperling 13, King 5, Miller 13, Kiedinger 14, Nichols 6, Jackson 3, Greene 3, Moore 16, Parker 3, Durant 4, Wilson 2, Harris 8. Totals 35 7-18 90.
NEW KENT (2-1, 2-1): Block 3, Hale 4, Scorsone 13, Nash 1, Kelley 16, Lugg 5, Karaffa 4, Whitlow 5. Totals 16 14-21 51.
Grafton: 27, 19, 22, 22 – 90
New Kent: 14, 9, 17, 11 – 51
3-point goals: Grafton 13 (Kiedinger 4, Miller 3, Harris 2, King, Jackson, Green, Durant), New Kent 5 (Kelley 3, Lugg, Block). JV: Grafton won 58-48.
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