PORTSMOUTH – After losing one of their top players due to foul-trouble during the early stretches of Saturday’s non-league game, one could assume, especially in the early stages of the season, that the Clay Panthers could miss a step.
In the case of their non-league game Saturday with county-foe Northwest, junior forward Shaden Malone picked up his second foul with 5:56 remaining in the first quarter with the Panthers holding onto a narrow 4-2 lead, all four of Clay’s points coming from Malone himself.
Rather than fold, however, the Panthers (1-1) elevated.
Finishing the quarter on a 17-0 run to take a 21-2 lead over Northwest (0-1) after one quarter, it’s safe to say Clay coach Garrick ‘Tiny’ Anderson loved the resolve his team showed with one of their leaders off the court.
Malone would finish with a team-high 15 points in the 64-50 Clay win, but it was the Panthers’ supporting cast who really stepped up.
“We’re always talking about being ready, 1-15,” Anderson said following the Panthers’ first win of the young season. “Jaden (Jessee) and the rest of our guys were really able to pick up the slack when Shaden (Malone) went out early with foul trouble.”
Of the 12 players listed on their varsity roster, 11 different Panthers would find their way into the scoring column in Saturday’s win.
Jaden Jessee finished with a team-high 14 points off-the-bench, Gage Moore and Dakota Dodds each finished with six, Clay Cottle and Levi Ratcliff each scored five, Reece Whitley scored four, Evan Woods finished with three, Hayden Moore and Caden Cline each scored two, and Gavin Cayton finished with one.
In addition to his six points, all of which came during the Panthers’ 17-0 run with Malone sidelined, Gage Moore contributed seven rebounds and seven assists while Reece Whitley added five rebounds and four assists.
For Northwest, sophomore Brayden Campbell, coming off a stellar football season, led the Mohawks with a game-high 17 points, 13 of which came in the second half. Blake Carver added eight points, Braden Borens and Brycen Carver each scored seven, Kory Butler and Dakota Secrest each scored three, and Austin Newman finished with two points in the loss.
“We want to be able to turn our defense into offense,” Anderson said. “Being able to get out in transition after a steal, talking with one another. Sometimes you can be struggling on offense, but if the defense is there, it can lead to points on the other end.”
After a busy weekend with a close loss to Paint Valley, 69-63, and Saturday’s win over Northwest, Clay will prepare to host SOC I rival Green Friday, December 6th to begin the SOC I portion of their regular season schedule.
“Green’s going to be a tough opponent,” Anderson said. “We have to be able to play intense defense against them, and we have to play together.”
Northwest (0-1) will attempt to regroup before their SOC II opener Friday, December 6th at Oak Hill.
Northwest – 2 14 14 20 – 50
Clay – 21 19 16 8 – 64
Northwest: Campbell 17, Bl. Carver 8, Borens 7, Br. Carver 7, Ko. Butler 3, Secrest 3, Newman 2
Clay: Malone 15, Jessee 14, Ga. Moore 6, Dodds 6, Cottle 5, Ratcliff 5, Whitley 4, Woods 3, Ha. Moore 2, Cline 2, Cayton 1
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at email@example.com, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved