A deep bench that produced and solid shooting from the charity stripe Tuesday night gave Clinton a conference road win over Topsail and the top spot in the East Carolina Central Conference.
“Now, we truly are in control of our destiny,” an elated coach Randy Jordan said of his varsity Horses who have only three regular season games left.
“We are alone in first place now with a 9-2 conference record and three games left to play. It’s a good position to be in, and just like I told the guys last week, it’s up to us. We are in control of what we do.”
The Horses showed that control Tuesday as an aggressive Topsail came out determined to overpower the Horses. They did just that in the first quarter, playing what Jordan called physical and aggressive basketball. By first quarter’s end, the home team had the Horses by 7, at 17-10.
But a flagrant foul call on a Topsail player shifted the momentum, and Clinton took control.
Tospail player Trevor Savidge got called for the T and was ejected after he and Dark Horse Wil Pearson got tangled up and Savidge, Jordan said, kicked and pounded at his player until the referee called the foul.
“I have to give Wil a lot of credit. He maintained his composure and didn’t try to retaliate, something we’ve stressed to the guys all season,” the Clinton coach acknowledged.
But the technical served to give the Horses the jolt they needed. “We were far more aggressive from then on, and we were able to take control of the game,” Jordan said.
That was true even though Clinton got in foul trouble of its on early in the game. But a deep bench that produced turned a negative into a positive for the Horses, who shot 25 for 39 at the charity stripe.
Jordan said O.J. Jones and Ryan Chester came off the bench and gave strong performances to help the Horses maintain their lead and get the win.
“I was very proud of all our guys. It was a big win for us,” Jordan stressed.
Demontio Bryant led scoring for Clinton with 17 points. He also was 15 of 21 from the foul line. Shian Bradshaw had 14 points; J.C. Evans, 10; and Greg Smith, 7, including two big 3-pointers.
The Horses will play host to East Duplin Friday night.