SCIOTOVILLE – The bursts of snow and wind didn’t keep any of the East and Clay faithful from coming out to witness an absolutely fantastic basketball game Friday night at East High School. The game was certainly an emotional roller coaster for fans of both teams, as leads were created and grown, and then suddenly vanished within a few minutes, and at times, seconds. In the end though, the East Tartans picked up another victory, this time against an SOC foe, the Clay Panthers.
Coming back from a 12 point deficit late in the first half, and trailing by 10 at halftime, the East Tartans outscored the Clay Panthers by 24 points in the second half of the game, defeating Clay 70-56.
“I was really pleased with our effort tonight,” East coach Adam Bailey said.
East had a good start to the game, but then things began to unravel for the Tartans. Akia Brown picked up two quick fouls, which temporarily took him out of the game.
Clay then went on a run about halfway through the second quarter. Tied at 24-24 with just over four minutes left in the second quarter, Clay began a 12 point run, taking a 36-24 lead late in the quarter.
By halftime the Panthers would lead by 10, 36-26.
“We didn’t handle the pressure well,” Bailey said. “We turned it over, and made some bad decisions, and then I think the kids kind of regrouped and they kind of kept the boat afloat.”
“The first half, we did the things we wanted to do,” Clay coach Adam Betten said. “I thought we moved the basketball well. Played good team basketball, and got it inside. We were able to get the ball inside and make some inside shots.”
Everything seemed to be going Clay’s way in the first half. They had a good lead going into the second half of the game, and took advantage of Brown not being able to play much of the first half due to foul trouble.
Bailey and his staff decided to make a change to the game plan at halftime. They decided to go big in the second half.
“We decided to play three big guys,” Bailey said. “We went with some length and we guarded their guards with some bigger guys, and it worked.”
The change was nearly perfect for the Tartans. They sent in a bigger squad, and also saw the return of Brown, who had yet to score on the night.
His scoring drought wouldn’t last, as Brown scored all of his 22 points in the second half. Brown led all Tartans in scoring on the night.
By the end of the third quarter, Clay’s lead had completely disappeared, as the game was tied 47-47.
Clay’s Cole Gilliland broke the tie, giving Clay a 49-47 lead. That would be the last time the Panthers held a lead in the game.
East went on a run from there, holding Clay scoreless for 4:33 of the fourth quarter. Anthony Williams would break the scoring drought for the Panthers after a field goal, which left his team still trailing East 57-51.
Clay would get as close as three points down from East, 59-56, after Cameron King hit an open three, with just over a minute left in the fourth quarter.
The Tartan lead just grew from there, as Clay was forced to foul. East continued to hit shots, and multiple key foul shots late in the game.
After the final buzzer, East defeated Clay 70-56.
“In the end, I think they just had a little bit more left than we did,” Betten said. “They were able to get the ball to middle more in the second half. They got more offensive rebounds, and we just weren’t able to get out in transition to get some baskets.”
The Tartans will play Tuesday evening at home as they battle Eastern. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Clay will host Green Tuesday evening at 7 p.m.
East – Brown 8-4-22, Eaton 7-3-18, B. Scott 6-2-14, Lowe 3-1-9, Hatcher 1-2-4, Z. Scott 0-1-1
Clay – King 10-0-21, Gilliland 5-2-14, Hinze 5-0-11, Williams 2-2-6, Riffe 2-0-4
3-point field goals – East 5 (Lowe 2, Brown 2, Eaton) Clay 4 (Gilliland, King, Hinze)
Reach Michael Hamilton at 740-353-3101, ext 1931 or on Twitter @MikeHamilton82.