The Clay Panthers came out on the prowl for a win last night, but the East Tartans didn’t let them have it taking the game in overtime 69-67.
Though the Panthers had a strong lead in the first half, not long until the third quarter East had caught them. The two teams battled point for point throughout the second half with neither team establishing a clear advantage. With 19 seconds remaining in the fourth, Clay was leading 60-59. East had the ball. The Tartans went to work with hopes of passing the Panthers in the final seconds. Instead, Clay fouled giving East a free throw and tying the game. 12 seconds remained, and the ball was in Panther hands. Clay, however, couldn’t get a shot off. The buzzer sounded without a victor. The Panthers and the Tartans were going into overtime.
Adrenaline drove both teams through another four minutes of a game that had required a strong effort from both ends of the court. With both teams hungry, Tartan Akia Brown made the winning basket with 00.7 seconds on the clock, closing the game.
“We expected a tightly contested game,” said East Head Coach Adam Bailey before commenting that East won the league last year and Clay won the year prior.
On the Tartan end, top scorers were Akia Brown with 24 points and Drew Lowe with 15.
Brown has played hard all season.
“Akia’s a great player for this area and for us,” Bailey stated.
This was only East’s (2:1, 1:1) third game of the season. Bailey stated that the boys are still not scoring as well as he’d like, but as the season progresses he hopes that will develop. He also hopes to see other players step up and take more leadership positions.
Clay’s Head Coach Adam Betten said, “After East’s big loss to Western, we knew both teams would be coming in for a fight, and it was a hard fought game. We just came up a little short.”
Leading the Panthers was Cameron King with 31 points.
“As a point guard and senior, we rely on him to play hard. We have to continue to run offense through him,” Betten commented.
King helped to execute some major offensive plays throughout the night, not only by scoring but also by passing the ball to where it needed to be.
Clay will go on to play North Adams tonight at home.
“It’s going to be another tough game,” stated Betten. “They’re a Division III school coming in.”
He added that in order to be successful, the Panthers will have to execute better offense and learn from their mistakes with East.
The East Tartans will meet the Eastern Tuesday. Bailey explained that Eastern has not yet lost a league game, so he is expecting it to be a tough night. Eastern’s coach helped out with East in previous seasons, so both teams are expected to know each others strategies well.
“It’ll be a fun night for us to play another good high school basketball game,” Bailey concluded.
East 11 20 18 11 9 69
Clay 21 12 18 9 7 67
East: Flannery-9, Lowe-15, Douthat-2, Brown-24, Bruton-11, Scott-8
Clay: Riffe-19, Gilliland-13, King-31, Pack-4
Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1924.