The 6-foot-8 senior from Cleveland Central Catholic scored 23 of his game-high 26 points in the third and fourth quarters to lead his squad over Portsmouth 58-47 on Friday in the boys high school basketball Division III state semifinals at the Jerome Schottenstein Center on the campus of The Ohio State University.
Cleveland Central Catholic (19-8) will face Cincinnati Taft today for the Division III state title and Grady's second title in three years.
Grady, who has committed to play basketball at Cleveland State University, also pulled down 22 rebounds, which ties a state record.
"He created some major problems for us," Portsmouth Coach Gene Collins said of Grady. "We were just trying to look for ways to slow him down, and we couldn't. We tried putting different players on him, and that didn't work."
The game started well for the Tojans (21-5) after Andrew Bendolph drilled a 3-pointer for the 5-3 lead in the first quarter.
Tre Underwood scored from a Bendolph feed under the basket, and that was followed by Wayne Evans connecting on a pull-up jumper from 12 feet. Underwood then stole a pass and fed Bendolph for the stop-and-pop jumper, and a 11-3 lead.
While the Portsmouth offense was hitting, the defense was moving Grady around and forcing him to take difficult shots.
"We were able to push him out some and make him take some bad shots," Collins said.
Cleveland Central Catholic Coach Kevin Noch agreed and said his squad was out of sync in the first quarter.
"Portsmouth got Anton out of position a lot in the first half," Noch said. "We went in and made some adjustments and were able to get him free in the second half."
Portsmouth took a 28-20 lead into the break after Evans banked in a long 3-pointer at the end of the second quarter.
"I gave a head fake to try to get open," Evans said. "I was trying to get fouled and the shot went in."
Evans finished the game with 13 points.
Grady, who had seven blocks in the game, said he had a talk with himself at halftime.
"I said, 'Aare you going to let this be your last game?'" Grady said. "And I told myself no. I wasn't going to let that happen."
Grady responded to his own motivational chat and scored 15 points in the third quarter.
"What can you say about our big man?" Noch said. "He brought energy to the floor."
Portsmouth, however, tried to counter as Zaide Whitley nailed a 3-pointer to tie the game 33-33 with 2:55 to play in the third quarter.
But the Trojans found themselves in foul trouble as Whitley and Dion McKinley each picked up a fourth fouls in the final quarter.
McKinley was hampered with foul trouble in the first half and played only six minutes in the first two periods.
"That was big," Collins said. "We got some guys in foul trouble and that hurts a game plan."
Central Catholic started to pull away early in the fourth quarter as it whipped off eight unanswered points.
Portsmouth tried to counter as Evans hit a runner and Bendolph swished a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 52-44.
Bendolph finished the game with 15 points and three assists.
"They were tough," Bendolph said. "They took our tempo away from us in the second half."
Portsmouth finished the season ranked No. 10 in the AP high school poll.
"I think this was a big accomplishment," Bendolph said. "It didn't end the way we wanted it to, but we got here."
Portsmouth loses Bendolph and Underwood to graduation.
"Those guys are true leaders," Collins said. "I'm proud of them."
The Trojans shot 37 percent from the field while Cleveland Central Catholic shot 43 percent. The Ironmen outrebounded the Trojans 40-26 and outscored Portsmouth's bench 14-1.
Cleveland Central — 5 15 19 19 — 58
Portsmouth — 11 17 8 11 — 47
Cleveland — Grady 8 9 22, Harper 3 0 6, Smith 4 0 9, Santiago 0 1 1, Alexander 0 2 2, Jones 7 0 14.
Portsmouth — McKinley 1 0 3, Underwood 3 0 6, Whitley 3 0 9, Bendolph 6 0 15, Evans 6 0 13, Jordan 0 1 1.
3-pointers — 2 (Grady, Smith), Portsmouth 8 (Bendolph 3, Whitley 3, Evans, McKinley.)