PORTSMOUTH – Home losses are never easy, especially one where you have a couple of opportunities to give yourself a chance down the stretch.
Ultimately, despite those chances, the Clay Panthers (5-9, 3-6 SOC I) fell to the Peebles Indians 53-51, a game in which they led 34-33 going into the fourth quarter.
“We have to do a better job at recognizing the time on the clock and knowing the situation,” said Clay head coach Garrick Anderson. “They missed some free throws and had a key turnover, but we were unable to execute those into points. We panicked a little bit.”
Clay played a solid second and third quarter on the defensive end against Peebles, limiting the Indians to just 16 points collectively in the middle two quarters (six in the second, ten in the third).
The problem? The first and the fourth. In the outer two quarters, Peebles put up a combined 37 points including 20 in the final frame.
“We have to play four quarters of defense,” said Anderson. “We gave up 17 in first quarter and 20 in 4th. Giving up that many points a quarter especially in the 4th won’t win you ball games. Our goal is to have them score 10 or less a quarter. We must find ways to close out games defensively.”
Hunter Mathias had one of his best offensive games of the season for the Panthers by scoring a game high 18 points, and Reece Whitley’s two big threes in the first part of the fourth quarter helped contribute to his 13 point outing against Peebles.
Sophomore Shaden Malone showed at times, especially on his two drives in the fourth quarter that resulted in baskets for Clay, why he has so much potential. Malone finished with eight points for the Panthers on Tuesday.
“They all played well offensively, we stress on those guys to attack the time and not settle for the outside shot,” said Anderson. “We had to move Shaden over to the point position tonight and he seemed a lot more comfortable at the position. Reece and Hunter can get to the rim and hopefully they will continue doing that because it should cause the defense to collapse on them and then we must kick the ball out to the open man or drop it down to our big.”
Peebles was led in scoring by Oakley Burbey and Weston Browning who finished tied with a game high 18 along with Clay’s Mathias.
There are always lessons to take away from a close loss. More often than not, the lessons learned from that loss will help you down the road, and that’s what Anderson is hoping for his squad as we approach tournament time in the middle of February.
“Tonight was a good lesson on knowing the situation and getting stops when we need to get stops. It was a tournament atmosphere tonight, I thought our kids played hard. We must learn to get stops when we have the momentum. Tournaments are right around the corner and I thought we took a step forward on getting better, we just have to find a way to close out games.”
Clay finds themselves back in action on Friday when they will host New Boston.
Clay: 18 FG, 5 3PT (Whitley 3), 9/10 FT. Scoring: Mathias 18, Whitley 13, Malone 8, Newton 6, Hudson 3, Hobbs 2, Dodds 1
Peebles: 20 FG, 5 3PT (Browning 3), 6/13 FT.
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at email@example.com, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT