Clinton jumped out to an early double digit lead over the Bulldogs from Wallace Rose-Hill on Wednesday evening and then had to hold on for a win over the rival Bulldogs. The Dark Horses used hot shooting in the first quarter to build a 13-point lead only to see it evaporate late in the game before the home team finally put away the determined Bulldogs with an 80-73 win.
Clinton opened the game with a hot shooting hand and tore out of the gates leading by as much as 13-points during the opening quarter. Wallace-Rose Hill finally seemed to settle into the game and had cut into the Dark Horses’ early lead to trail by nine, at 26-17 at the end of the first quarter.
The Dark Horses shooting cooled off in the second quarter and the Bulldogs took advantage to close the gap. By quarter’s end, the Clinton lead was 40-33, as Wallace seemed to answer every Clinton run to keep the Dark Horses within striking distance.
Wallace outscored the Dark Horses seven to two in the opening three minutes of the second half to draw within two at 52-50 with 4:29 remaining in the third quarter. Two possessions later the Bulldogs overtook the Dark Horses, grabbing a two point lead at 46-44, and held the momentum advantage.
The game was a back and forth affair until the two minute mark when Clinton’s Rayquan Faison drove baseline, dropping in a bucket and drawing the foul to put the Dark Horses on top for good at 72-68. Wallace failed to convert on two straight trips and missed a couple of crucial free throws down the stretch to seal their fate.
Clinton was led by Jeremiah Pope with 19 points, EJ Howard added 17 points, Xavier Howard pitched in 14, JJ Robertson scored 10 and seniors Jaquan McLean and Rayquan Faison each chipped in 8 points for the Dark Horses. Jaron Drakeford led the Bulldogs with 19 points.
Clinton head coach Randy Jordan was pleased with his team’s performance, saying “this was a big win for our team. We answered every run that they had and executed the game plan. We knew that they were a strong physical team and our guys did a good job of taking the dribble penetration away from them and forcing them to shoot from the outside more than they wanted to. This was a huge step for us tonight and I am proud of our team.”
Bulldog coach, Steve Robinson was less enthused by his team’s performance saying “we didn’t get a defensive rebound on their free throw, we missed a couple of close range shots down the stretch, missed some free throws and had too many defensive breakdowns. It came down to Clinton making plays down the stretch when we couldn’t.”
The win improves Clinton’s record to 10-6 overall and 5-2 in Four County Conference play. The Dark Horses take to the road for another conference tilt against Pender on Friday night.
Reach Mike Carter at [email protected]