The Dark Horses varsity basketball teams opened up their seasons at home Tuesday night playing host to 3A school Southern Wayne. Both squads won, the women with a 52-51 buzzer beater, and the men dominating on the way to a 77-61 victory.
It was sloppy at times, but behind some senior leadership and a freshman’s clutch shot at the buzzer, the Lady Horses started the season with a win.
The Lady Horses didn’t shoot well, at only 26 percent on 19-of-72 shooting, and 2-of-22 from three-point range for only 9 percent. The team was off from the free throw stripe as well, landing 12-of-22. They also turned the ball over 21 times.
While they struggled offensively, the team ended the night with 45 total rebounds and 13 steals. The level of production they got from their younger players was impressive.
“Man, that was wild for a first game, but I am proud of our girls and how they keep fighting to the end,” said head coach Chris Owens.
Things in the first quarter got off to a good start for Clinton as they were able to rally ahead and end the first quarter with a four point lead at 17-13. They didn’t maintain that lead only scoring eight in the second quarter while Southern Wayne added another 13. Early foul trouble to one of the Horses team leaders Alex Canady also didn’t help.
This brought the first half action to an end with them trailing 26-25.
Southern Wayne outscored the Horses 11-8 in the third quarter. In the final quarter, the Horses found their spark with the best eight minutes they played all night, fighting back to claim a five-point lead in the final minutes of the game and were poised to win. Then some costly turnovers and bad fouls ended up giving away the lead 51-50.
With seconds left on the clock, freshman Isa Banks pushed the ball up court and fired one up around the free throw line. As the buzzer sounded, it went in, the Lady Horses stealing back the lead and the win 52-51.
“We knew coming into the season we had some young inexperienced players,” said Owens. “I always tell my freshmen if they’ve got the shot then shoot and it paid off for us tonight. Our underclassmen really stepped it up tonight and like I said before I’m very proud of them.”
The coach also expressed his thanks to the crowd in attendance.
“They were behind us the whole night and that really helped us out,” he concluded.
Leaders for the Horses were Ashlyn Williams with 32 points, nine rebounds and five steals. Her partners in crime were Canady with 13 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals, and Banks, who added four points, eight rebounds, two steals, an assist and the game-winning shot.
The men’s game didn’t have a dramatic finish like the women’s as they dominated Southern Wayne’s men with a double-digit victory. Though it didn’t end with a last second shot there was plenty of excitement that had the gym rocking with a plethora of dunks.
“A win’s a win that’s what we expect, however I’m not disappointed in them, but disappointed for them,” said head coach Randy Jordan. “Though we won, we could’ve played much better.”
“There were times we were dominant and other times we slacked off a little bit,” Jordan added. “We let them hang around and that’s something you can’t let teams do. We’ve also got to mature a little bit. We got some bad calls a couple of times and we didn’t respond well. That’s something we’ve got to work on.”
The Horses ended the first quarter with a 20-13 lead and never looked back for the rest of the night. Adding on another 25 points in the second half they furthered their lead. With some high flying dunks by Dewan Lesane the first half ended with them leading 35-25.
They continued to stretch the lead into the second half scoring the most points in the third quarter, with 24. Throw in another 18 for the fourth quarter and Clinton cruised to a win in the opener by 16 points, 77-61.
At 45 percent on the floor on 29-of-64 shooting, they shot the ball pretty well. They also shot equally well from three with 43 percent on 6-14. Their free throw percentage was 59 percent on 13-of-22.
They controlled the boards all night with 42 total rebounds, 15 steals, 15 assists and six block,s but they did have 11 turnovers.
Leaders for the night were seniors Kris Williams and Lesane who each ended with 15 points apiece. Jalen Owens also provided a spark of offense off the bench with 10 points of his own.
The men now improve to 1-0 as both teams prepare to face off against Southern Wayne again Friday this time on the road.
“We are still a very talented team, but we’re still trying to find ourselves,” said Jordan. “Finding our chemistry will be very important. I believe we will and I’m looking forward to our rematch on Friday.”
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