In a game that was all it was billed to be, and more, Southern Ohio Conference (SOC) rivals, the Clay Panthers and the Notre Dame Titans, faced off Wednesday night to a capacity crowd. In the end, it was the Panthers narrowly defeating the Titans 52 to 49.
“We went out and we controlled our own destiny and that’s all we can do,” said Clay Head Coach Adam Betten. “We’ve known that since we started two games down in the SOC. We knew we had to just keep battling and be resilient. This is the 13th game we’ve won in a row, because we are able to fight back and continue to fight against teams like (Notre Dame), even into the fourth quarter.”
“I expected a close ball game between two tough teams,” said Titans Head Coach Garrick Anderson. “Us, Clay, and Eastern are all tied for first in the conference and someone had to lose, unfortunately this time it was us.”
At the end of the first quarter, the teams came to the bench tied 12-12. In a gym that was standing room only, the energy surrounding the game was intense. And even when the Titans pulled away to lead going into half-time 25-18, it did nothing to put a damper on the crowd.
Part of the reason for such intensity, was the anticipation of Clay Senior Cameron Knight hitting a huge milestone during this game. A milestone he achieved during the fourth quarter when he scored his 1000th career point.
“Cameron did a fantastic job, not only did he score his 1000th point, but defensively he was all over the place. He was getting steals and pushing the ball the other way allowing him to attack the basket. As a coach, to see your senior leader do that is just fantastic,” commented Coach Betten.
King may have lead his team to the win scoring 24 points, as well as one of the most important points of his life, another Clay senior hit a huge basket when it mattered most.
“At the end of the game, we were zero and 15 from the three point line, far from what we have been shooting,” stated Coach Betten. “Then Cole, who had been on the bench with foul trouble through the first three quarters, steps up with a minute something to go and hits a huge three for us to take our first lead.”
Gilliland added 12 points to the Panthers win including the three point shot at 1:32 left in the fourth quarter that gave Clay a one point lead that they were able to hang on to.
“There was just great resiliency by these guys, and it’s nice to see their hard work pay off,” added Coach Betten.
For the Titans, senior Sam Kayser lead his team with 12 points, while Senior Trevon turner scored 11 points, and Sophomore Ben Mader scored 10.
“Everyone fought hard. Our kids played hard, you can’t fault their effort,” said Titan’s Coach Anderson. “The ball bounces one way we win, unfortunately this time it bounced their way.”
“It’s a great rivalry,” said Panther Coach Betten. “These guys have been played against each other since they were little and it’s great for them to fight back and forth and to compete at such a high level.”
“It’s a great group of kids in the SOC, this senior group all across the board,” added Coach Betten. “Every team has fantastic seniors, and it’s been fun to watch them grow up and go through the system and watch them become fine young men. I’m very proud of all of them, and I’m just glad we were able to pull one off tonight.”
The Clay Panthers play host to the New Boston Tigers Friday; while, the Notre Dame Titans host the Symmes Valley Vikings.
1 2 3 4 T
Notre Dame 12 13 12 12 49
Clay 12 6 13 21 52
Notre Dame: Johnson – 6, Kayser – 12, Turner – 11, Sparks – 2, Bazler – 5, Berry – 2, Mader – 10, Speas – 1
Clay: Cline – 3, Riffe – 1, Gilliland – 12, King – 24, Williams – 6, Hinze – 6