NEW BOSTON – It’s amazing what can change from the one half to the next, in the drop of a hat.
The Clay Panthers struggled offensively for much of the first half and it was noticeable, but not unfixable.
Whatever Clay head coach Scott Artis told his team in the locker room, trailing a young Glenwood team 27-19 at halftime on the Tigers home court, it clicked in his player’s heads as they went on to outscore Glenwood 37-23 in the second half en route to a 56-50 road SOC I win (2-2 overall, 2-1 in the SOC), one that was crucial if the Panthers hope to compete for one of the top spots in the SOC I race.
“It was just about effort,” said Artis when discussing his conversation with his team at the halftime break. “We’ve had a rough go out it the first couple of games, just trying to get in shape and get ready. And as you can see, they’re still huffing and puffing, trying to get in shape. It was just heart, and finally dug deep and decided, ‘Okay, coach is mad, it’s time to go win.’ And they did, and I’m very proud of them and how they responded.”
The turning point in the game was just how hot the Clay team came out of the locker room. Not in an emotional sense, but in the sense that every shot the Panthers threw up felt as if it it was going to go in.
“First game that I felt as if I was actually hitting some shots,” said Artis’ daughter, Skylar, who led the Panthers in scoring with 26 points on 10/14 shooting from the field. “At halftime, we really came out and played hard. We started off slow, but came back and won, and I guess that’s all that matters.”
Artis’ 26 points on the night matched the same number of points the Panthers were able to put up in the third quarter alone, 26. Clay not only outscored the Tigers in the third, they doubled their score, 26-13 coming out of the locker room.
“They changed a few things on us,” said Glenwood head coach Kayla Wiley following her team’s loss Thursday night (2-3 overall, 1-2 in the SOC). “We had some girls that weren’t really in foul trouble till the fourth, but they had three, so they were being more reserved on defense. I thought the third quarter, they outplayed us as far as getting on loose balls. I don’t think our girls weren’t trying, I just think they were more aggressive than we were in the third.”
Leading the Tigers in scoring was Lexus Oiler with 22 points while also grabbing 11 rebounds. The junior’s lead by example approach is what really helped the Tigers control the game for a large portion, and also remain in the game when Clay got hot.
“Lexus is a person who is going to lead by example,” said Wiley. “She’s not going to say too much vocally, but she’s going to go after it and try and do what her team needs her to do to win. I thought she played a great game, had a lot of heart, and she’s a great kid to coach.”
Also leading Glenwood in scoring was Lexus’ sister, Sammy, who finished with 12 points, and sophomore Shelby Easter who finished with 12 points as well.
Leading the Panthers in scoring alongside Artis were fellow seniors’ Jensen Warnock who finished with 14 points and 8 rebounds on 5/12 shooting, and also Sophia Balestra who finished with 5 points, a team high 9 rebounds, and a game high 6 steals.
“This was a big game for us in the SOC,” said Scott Artis. “Of course New Boston is pretty much a whole different team than last year, so we didn’t really know what to expect. But they’ve got a good team this year. It’s good to get the win, and it being in the SOC definitely helps us with where we want to be at the end of the year, it’s a good win for us.”
Clay will have a quick turnaround before their home contest with Manchester on Saturday.
As for Glenwood, they will also have a quick turnaround as they prepare to face Valley on Saturday in a road trip to Lucasville to face the red hot Indians in an SOC I/SOC II battle.
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT