Clinton’s Lady Dark Horse basketball team hosted North Johnston in a first round playoff game on Tuesday night. The visiting Lady Panthers gave the 11th seeded Lady Horses scare, running out to an early lead before Clinton rallied to take the first round win, besting the Lady Panthers 53-50.
The Lady Panthers bolted out of the gates, taking a 10 point lead in the first quarter, allowing Clinton to score only 8 points in the first frame. The Lady Horses settled down in the second quarter and began to cut into the North Johnston lead. At halftime the Lady Horses had whittled the Lady Panther’s lead to five at 34-29.
“We started out very sluggish and struggled a little with their size in the first half”, commented Clinton coach Chris Owens after the game. The Lady Dark Horses made some half time adjustments and continued to cut into the Lady Panthers lead in the third quarter. By the end of the third period the Lady Horses had wrestled the lead away and clung to a three point advantage, 44-41 by the end of the third quarter.
North Johnston clawed their way back into the lead early in the fourth quarter but seemed to lose patience, committing several turnovers and allowing the Lady Horses to open up a five point lead late in the game. With twenty-nine seconds remaining in the game, the Lady Panthers missed a long three-pointer but Clinton was unable to control the rebound and North Johnston picked up an easy basket to cut the lead to three at 53-50. North Johnston allowed Clinton to run the clock down to 6 seconds before they committed a foul sending Brielle Mitchell to the free throw line with a chance to put the game on ice.
Mitchell missed both free throws allowing a final second half court shot by the Lady Panthers. Fortunately for Clinton the final attempt fell just short and the Lady Dark Horses breathed a sigh of relief with the 53-50 win secured.
Ashlyn Williams sparked the Lady Horses, coming off the bench to pump in her team high 15 points. Alex Canady and Brielle Mitchell scored nine points each and Tanaziah Chestnutt gave Clinton valuable minutes off the bench and added five points for the Lady Horses. North Johnston’s Levassie Taylor scored 15 to lead the Lady Panthers.
North Johnston’s head coach Jay Poole was disappointed with the loss but praised his teams play, saying “I thought we played really well early. Our size inside gave them problems, but you have to give Clinton credit. They made some nice adjustments at half time and took us out of our plan in the second half. I just felt like we lost our patience a little and they really took advantage of it.”
Clinton head coach Chris Owens applauded his team’s refusal to quit saying, “I am so proud of the way the girls stuck together tonight. They got down in the first half but they listened to the half time adjustments and came out and executed the game plan. It is good to get this one behind us and move on to the second round.” The first round win improves the Lady Horses record to 23-5 overall and sends Clinton to Bunn for a second round game on Thursday night. The game is set for a 7pm tip-off.
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