The Clinton men’s basketball team welcomed the Pender Patriots to the Faison Gymnasium on Thursday night for the conference opener for each team.
The Dark Horses ran at the Patriots in waves, using a 3 platoon substitution strategy that kept fresh legs in the game at all times. Clinton opened up a comfortable lead in the second quarter and cruised to the 75-62 win over the out manned Patriots.
The Patriots kept the game close in the early going, trailing the Dark Horses by only two points, 22-20 after the first quarter. Early in the second quarter Clinton’s depth began to take its toll on the Patriots, with the Dark Horse press forcing turnovers and creating easy scoring opportunities while limiting the Pender offense to just four points in route to a 42-24 halftime lead.
The Patriots opened the third quarter playing inspired basketball, while the Dark Horses seemed to come out flat. Pender chipped away at the Clinton lead, outscoring the Horses 18-14 in the third period to trim the lead to 56-42 after three.
The Patriots continued their rally early in the fourth quarter, cutting the Clinton lead to seven points at the 5:55 mark but seemed to run out of gas as the Dark Horses continued to run fresh bodies at them. As time expired on the game the Dark Horses had built their lead back to a very comfortable 13 point margin of victory, giving the Dark Horses their first conference win of the young season.
The Dark Horses were led offensively by E J Howard with 11 points and Jaquan McLean and Xavier Howard with 10 points each.
Clinton head coach Randy Jordan commented after the game, saying “we are fortunate to have great depth. We have a lot of good players, and we are going to take advantage of that depth by getting a lot of people playing time. We are still getting our basketball legs, still working on chemistry and still defining roles.”
Jordan continued complementing his team’s play adding, “I thought we had a really good first half, fell off a little in the third quarter, but came back and dominated the fourth quarter. I think we sort of got our second wind and just wore them down. The kids like this style of play and are really buying into it, it’s just going to take a little time to get all the kinks worked out.”
The win improves Clinton’s record to 4-2 overall and 1-0 in conference play. Clinton travels to East Bladen on Thursday to face the Eagles before the holiday break.
The Dark Horse JV defeated the Pender JV 69-64. Kahari Williams paced the Dark Horses with 16 points, Malik Killett chipped in 13 and Austin Fussell added 8 points in the win.