Clinton hosted the Lady Leopards of Lakewood in a cross county rivalry game on Tuesday night. The game was as good as advertised for two and a half quarters, before the Lady Dark Horses found the range behind the three point line and put the game away. After trailing by one at the half, Clinton turned up the pressure and pulled away from Lakewood, taking the 56-47 non-conference win.
Justina Henry’s hot hand from long range helped the Lady Leopards keep pace in the first half as she hit four three pointers on her way to a 14 point first quarter performance. Clinton rode the steady hand of Brielle Mitchell in the first half to keep pace with the hot shooting Lady Leps. Mitchell had 12 first half points, keeping the Lady Horses close before halftime. At the half Clinton trailed 25-24 and it appeared it would be a fight to the end.
The Lady Dark Horses opened the second half outscoring Lakewood 11-2 in the first three minutes to take a 35-27 lead before the Lady Leps took a timeout. Coming out of the timeout, Lakewood fought back, taking a 36-35 lead before Clinton rattled off 8 unanswered points to end the third quarter and take a 43-36 advantage into the final frame.
The damage inflicted by the Lady Horses in the third quarter was too much for the Lady Leps to overcome as the teams played fairly evenly in the fourth quarter. The Lady Horses outscored Lakewood by only one point in the final quarter to wrap up the 56-47 victory over the visitors.
After the game Clinton’s head coach Chris Owens said, “not to take anything away from Lakewood, but we just did not play up to our abilities in the first half. We came out in the second half and played better defense and started hitting some shots. I told the girls at halftime to just settle down, we were forcing our shots in the first half, we just needed to calm down and play our game.”
Lakewood’s head coach, Vonnie McNeil was pleased with the effort her team showed. “We were right there the whole game,” said McNeil. “They are a great team. It was a good showing for our girls.”
Clinton was led offensively by Brielle Mitchell with 22 points, Alex Canady added 18 and Kiera Mabry chipped in 8 points. Lakewood was paced by Justina Henry with 21 and Brianna Evans with 10 points.
The win moves the Lady Dark Horses to 7-0 on the season. Clinton will open Four County Conference play on next Tuesday when they welcome Pender to the Faison Gym.