Clinton’s No. 7 ranked Dark Horses were able to shut down Graham’s 3-point game Wednesday night and take the second round state playoff game 88-79.
An elated coach Randy Jordan praised his boys for what he called an incredible game and a total team effort, with the Horses able to execute heir press and run game to overtake the No. 2 ranked team in the second quarter and hold on for the win.
“I am so proud of these guys,” Jordan said. “They came out and answered the bell from the start. We got behind in the first quarter, but the guys never quit; they kept their confidence and played tough. We got out on defense and shut down their 3-point shot, and when we did that, we were able to turn things around.”
Graham started off hot and took an early 10-point lead, finishing the first quarter ahead 26-16.
But Clinton wasn’t going away. Instead they dug in, executed their defense and plowed ahead, outscoring Graham 31 to 20 in the second quarter to take a 47-46 lead — and the momentum — into the half.
That momentum swing continued in the third period, as Clinton held onto its lead, putting a little more distance between themselves and Graham.
“Shutting down their 3-point ball was big,” Jordan said. “Graham averages about 13 made 3s every game. We held them to only six in the entire game. That was huge for us.”
While Jordan was happy with Clinton’s defensive effort, he was equally pleased with the offensive performance.
“We had a great offensive effort from Shian Bradshaw, who scored a career-high 26 points, and J.C. Evans, who scored a career-high 17 points.”
Demontio Bryant chipped in 12 to round out the Horses who were in double-digits, Jordan said.
“I really can’t say enough about this team and how well they played. It was a high intensity game, and the guys responded to that well. We controlled both boards. This was a great game to coach, a great team to coach.”
Clinton, now 21-7, travel to Fairmont for the sectional finals Friday night. They face Fairmont, the No. 3 ranked team in the mideast with a 22-4 record.
“The guys had the rest of the night (Wednesday) to celebrate the win, then it’s back to work to get ready for Friday’s game.
Jordan said they already know that Fairmont is a good defensive team, with an outstanding 6 foot 7 inch tall sophomore to contend with.
“We’ll be ready,” Jordan said.