ROSEMOUNT — The visiting Oak Hill Oaks made their move in the second quarter, and managed to hold off Clay in a matchup of both teams seeking their first win of the season on the first day of December.
While the Panthers indeed won the second half by four points, their efforts in the late stages fell just short of overcoming an eight-point halftime deficit — falling to the Oaks 68-64 in their home opener.
“I just felt like we didn’t get those 50-50 balls,” Clay coach Garrick ‘Tiny’ Anderson said. “Every time we would tip it, they would tip it, get possession, and score. Every time we would make a big bucket, they would come down and hit a three. We just did not get that key stop when we needed and those 50-50 balls killed us.”
Even in defeat, first-team all-SOC I senior Shaden Malone had a dominant performance on the offensive end.
Malone scored 12 of the Panthers’ 19 points in the first quarter on four field goals and four-of-five shooting at the free-throw line.
Entering the fourth with Clay trailing by just five, Malone was able to finish at the rim — and cut the Oaks’ lead down to as few as three points with a minute to play.
Adding to his game-high point total, the Clay senior scored 17 points in the game’s final period — including a half-court heave as time expired that ended the contest with the game’s four-point result.
“Shaden has played well last Friday night offensively and tonight,” Anderson said. “He makes us go. He’s very athletic and can get to the rim, so we rely on him to attack and once the defense collapses, we expect him to kick the basketball out.”
Malone scored 29 of his game-high 31 in the first and fourth quarters, but was held to just one make in the second and third.
Clay junior Gavin Cayton scored each of his six points in the second and third periods, the same for Evan Balestra’s five and Jaymes Jones’ three-point make — one of five for the Panthers in the narrow loss.
Panthers senior Clay Cottle scored seven of his 12 points at the free-throw line on a 7-of-8 shooting margin, as well as sinking Clay’s first three-point make of the game.
Carson Porginski added four and Cullen Payne three to round out the Panthers’ scoring in their seven-man rotation.
Oak Hill connected on 10 made three-pointers for the game, including four by Braylon Howell, who had a team-high 16 and three by Landon Hines, who scored 14 off-the-bench.
Oaks sophomore Evan Fisher added 15 points on six made field goals and 3-of-6 foul shooting.
Unofficially, Oak Hill managed to outrebound Clay 20-19 — and won the turnover margin by committing just eight to the Panthers’ 12.
“We just need to get stops,” Anderson said. “We gave up an offensive rebound on a free throw or else we maybe only lose by two tonight. We just need to be able to finish every possession.”
Clay (0-2) will be back in action on Friday (Dec. 4) in its Southern Ohio Conference Division I opener against visiting Notre Dame (0-1).
Both teams will be seeking their first win of the young season — and an early leg-up in the league race.
Clay and Notre Dame split their regular-season matchups a year ago — with the Panthers winning 59-28 on the Titans’ home court and the Titans taking a 37-35 road win at Clay back in January.
“We’ve got Notre Dame on Friday, they’re a great team and well-coached,” Anderson said. “It’s going to be a battle here and we always want to take care of our conference games.”
Oak Hill 19 16 13 20 — 68
Clay 19 8 16 21 — 64
OAK HILL 68 (1-1)
Connor Clark 0 0-0 0, Brock Harden 2 0-0 6, Aidan Hall 4 1-1 9, Kade Kinzel 2 3-4 8, Braylon Howell 5 2-4 16, Evan Fisher 6 3-6 15, Landon Hines 4 3-6 14; TOTALS 23 12-21 68; Three-point field goals: 10 (Braylon Howell 4, Landon Hines 3, Brock Harden 2, Kade Kinzel 1)
CLAY 64 (0-2)
Clay Cottle 2 7-8 12, Shaden Malone 10 10-15 31, Gavin Cayton 3 0-0 6, Carson Porginski 2 0-0 4, Jaymes Jones 1 0-0 3, Cullen Payne 1 0-0 3, Evan Balestra 2 0-0 5; TOTALS 21 17-23 64; Three-point field goals: 5 (Clay Cottle, Shaden Malone, Jaymes Jones, Cullen Payne and Evan Balestra 1 apiece)
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved