MCDERMOTT- The fifth-seeded Clay Panthers defeated the fourth-seeded Peebles Indians 55-42 Tuesday night in a Division IV Sectional Finals match at Northwest High School. The game featured four-of-five Panther starters in double figures, with Anthony Williams contributing eight points of his own.
The game started quickly, as both teams would score a few baskets out of the gate and then settle down into their offensive rhythms. As momentum swung back and forth, Cole Gilliland blocked his first of four shots to ignite the Clay faithful. The Panthers would go into the second quarter up 13-11.
The Panthers opened the game up in the second. Nate Hinze had all of his points, four treys from behind the arc, in the second quarter. Brody Riffe was big inside as King and the rest of the Panthers found him underneath for easy buckets off penetration. Clay would tally 19 points in the quarter and go into the half with an eight point lead.
Peebles battled back in the third quarter. They started with a 7-0 run that cut the Clay lead to just a single point. Tanner Arey and Cameron Gordley both led the Indians with 13, as they managed to cut the Clay lead to four points heading into the final quarter. Clay Head Coach Adam Betten could be heard between quarters yelling “don’t let up!”
The Panthers indeed wouldn’t let up, as they cemented their win by slowing down their offensive sets and forcing the Indians to foul. Clay coasted to a 55-42 win as they took care of the ball and hit their free throws. Now, the Panthers head to Athens to face off against the one seeded Trimble Tomcats Monday at 6:15 p.m.
“Heading to the Convo is just fantastic for these kids,” said Betten. “Coming into the season they expected to finish high, and the five losses were honestly unexpected. But the five losses came in a very tough conference. The SOC is well represented in the tournament: Notre Dame, East, Eastern. Each team is a great team and they are each well coached. We had plenty of playoff practice with the atmospheres in each of those gyms. Our kids knew how to step up and play tonight and I think that’s from being accustomed to playing in such a great league.”
“I can’t say enough about Cameron King and Brody Riffe tonight. They put on one of the best defensive performances I’ve seen. Cole led us in rebounds with 14 and was a monster inside. Nate Hinze scored in bunches in the second quarter, it was just a great well rounded effort tonight. We managed to really have momentum at the end of both halves. Hinze hit a three for us in the second and we came out and knocked down our free throws in the fourth. We’ve just been telling this group, keep fighting and don’t let up. Nothing is over until it’s over and coming into the fourth I wanted to keep them motivated. I wanted them to close, and they did just that.”
“Monday we will face off against Trimble. We have to be ready to play, we were ready to get to the Convo last year but this year we want to move forward.”
Clay 13 19 6 17 55
Peebles 11 13 10 8 42
Clay: Riffe 13, Hinze 12, King 11, Gilliland 11, Williams 8
Peebles: Arey 13, Gordley 13, Ryan 4, Kremin 4, Schmitz 4, Parrett 4