The Dark Horses finally got over their fourth round slump Tuesday night, dismantling the No. 3 seeded Fairmont in a dominating performance from the opening minutes. Defending their home court four times in a row they owned the Golden Tornadoes 80-56.
“This was a great game for us, we can up short last year but we knew we’d make it here again and this time it would be different” said Horses senior Dewan Lesesne. “All the time and hours we’ve put into practice for this year, for this moment, are finally showing and paying off.”
“It feels good to have gotten this win because it was our plan to make it back here from the start. Plus I was looking forward to this game because I lost to them my freshman year and getting this win was some nice revenge,” said Clinton’s Kris Williams.
Playing in front of the loudest and largest, sold out, crowd the Horses gym has seen all season, with unbearable heat, their were plenty of mental distractions. It did nothing to stop Clinton from having and keeping absolute control over the entire game. Fueled by the defeat from last year, they didn’t let anything stop them as they executed their gameplan cleanly.
“Coming up short the way we did and having lost to this team before, it’s all been fuel for us to use this year. Going into this game we had a solid gameplan and knew what we had to do to come away with a win,” said Kris Williams. “We listened to coach, like we always do, took away what they do best and keep up our intensity and now we’re moving on.”
“We knew what to expect coming into this game, its Fairmont. They played hard, in your face, they’re going to be rough and bump you,” said head coach Randy Jordan. ” Our plan was to spread them out, make them shoot the jump shot and attack the basket to get them into foul trouble early, which we did and everything just worked.”
Everything working was apparent from the first quarter with Clinton taking a 14 point lead to kick thing off. They got to basket at will ripping off 24 points by the end of the first eight. Their defense wasn’t show up either, holding Fairmont’s high powered inside game to just 10 points.
The Golden Tornadoes weren’t done fighting as they found a little offensive stride in the second quarter outscoring the Horses by two points. Picking up the tempo, their offense began to find the success in the paint that they’ve had all season, going for 21. It did little to effect the flow of the game, their well know aggressive trap defense could do nothing to slow up the Horses. With 19 added in the second period Clinton took a 12 point lead going into halftime, the score 43-31.
Coming out of the break, it was all Clinton for the remainder of the night, taking Fairmont completely out of sync the whole second half. The Horses did drop a little in their offensive production but still managed to win the quarter easily going for 17 more. The defense, matching the effectiveness of the first period, held the visiting Golden Tornadoes to just 10 points again.
With a sizable lead going into the fourth ahead 60-41 the Dark Horses played solid in the final frame to take the win. With players starting to rotate in and out, they wrapped up the night taking the fourth 20-15 and punched their ticket to the fifth round on a 24 point victory.
Williams and Lesesne both had huge nights, leading the way for their team on the offensive front, they each ended with a game high 22 points. The secret weapon for the Horses this game though was Kahari Williams who finished with 13 points and was huge in the paint.
“Kahari did a great job, he understood his role was to play big and bang with people do low,” said Jordan. “We call him the “garbage man” because we has this gift of just knowing were the ball is at all times and how to collect rebounds, that’s something you just can’t coach. Again he did an amazing job, we are not moving on without him and what he did for us tonight and all season.”
He did more than just score, showing out in the biggest game of the season thus far. The “garbage man” was an unstoppable presence on the inside, striving to do what he can for his squad.
“I just try to make my team happy, we said we were going to make it all the way and I’m going to do whatever I can to make that happen, said Kahari Williams. “After tonight we’ve finally beat our curse, in the past we always went out early but now we’re a step closer to our goal of making it to the end.”
“Hearing all the stuff coach just said about me just means one thing and that’s that I’ve got to continue to do my job. If I score I score and if I don’t I don’t, its all about doing what I can to help the team and showing that their trust in me isn’t for nothing,” he concluded.
With the fourth round finally behind them the Dark Horses now look ahead to the Final Four. They’ll make the last push towards the states, on Saturday, when they travel to East Carolina University, taking on No.9 seed Greene Central.
Reach Michael Hardison at [email protected] Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @SampsonInd.