By Thomas Wampler Jobe Regional Sports
It was a game filled with clutch plays by both teams when the Hornets and Wildcats tangled last week at Metcalfe County High School. In the end, it was the Wildcats who got the last shot and the 66-63 overtime victory.
Trevor Fields got the hometown crowd into the game when he connected with Austin Ford with a behind-the-back pass for the first basket of the game and a short-lived 2-point lead, but the Wildcat’s, Nick Clemmons nailed two straight 3-pointers to answer.
Southpaw Blake Sharp knocked down a trey for MCHS seconds later, but the majority of the first half belonged to Edmonson County High School. The Wildcats led 17-11 at the end of the first quarter and took a 30-18 lead at the half.
Metcalfe had a couple of major defensive lapses, committed too many turnovers and poor first half of 3-point shooting (1-11). The Hornets trailed 26-13 when they committed four turnovers in a row. The Hornets struggled getting in any kind of offensive flow with errant passes and dribbling woes but give the Wildcats credit also with their defensive pressure.
MCHS was behind by 10 points with 3:41 when Boston Devore knocked down a 3-pointer and made one of two free tosses in back-to-back possessions. Tyler London powered his way to the basket for two points and 6-point run pulled the home team to within five points, 32-27.
The Wildcats lead had been trimmed to 38-35 at the end of the third quarter.
London converted two from the line and the Edmonson lead was 47-44. Fields rattled in a 3-point shot from the top of the key to tie the game at 47 with 4:10 on the clock. Devore went to the rim to give the Hornets their first lead since the opening basket, 49-48.
London connected on a 3-pointer from the deep corner, 52-50 Hornets.
Clemmons hit one of his game-high five 3-point baskets (five of eight) to tie the game at 54. With 7.8 seconds remaining in the game, London calmly made two from the line for a 56-54 Hornet lead. Wildcat Mason Pierce inbounded the ball to Dalton Decker. Decker was able to go full court to the basket unimpeded and kissed it off the glass to tie the score as the buzzer sounded to force overtime.
London opened OT with a basket.
The score was tied at 60 when Devore scored. Griffin Spainhoward notched his first points of the game when he nailed a three from the corner to give the Wildcats a 63-60 lead with 1:00 to go. London answered with a step-back trey for a 63-63 score with 38.1 seconds remaining.
The Wildcats ran the clock all the way down to 3.7 seconds. Clemmons hit the game-winning shot from at least two steps behind the arc uncontested.
“We let them back in the game in the second half, ” said Coach Michael McClintic after the game. “We got in a hurry, turned the ball over and rushed a few shots but we didn’t quit. We battled back played hard. I thought we made some good decisions at the end there, especially in the overtime.”
Chaz Wilson led the Wildcats with 26 points (eight of 10 free throws) and eight rebounds. Wilson was a dominant force from the inside. “That number 22 is just a sophomore,” said Hornet coach Brandon Brockman. “We’ve got two more years having to deal with him. He’s tough inside.”
Wildcat Wilson praised the Hornets. “The London kid and Boston (Devore) both played amazing,” he said. “I was right on top of London when he hit that step-back three.”
Clemmons added 14 points and Pierce chipped in 10 points for the Wildcats other two top scorers.
London had 25 points and Devore added 22 points for Metcalfe.
Coach McClintic gave credit to Coach Brockman and the Hornets. “They are a good basketball team, better than their record indicates. Coach Brockman has done a great job at Metcalfe,” he said. “I like watching (Tyler) London and #34 (Devore) play and #3 (Fields). They have some really good kids and they play hard.”
“Tyler (London) hit that huge 3-point shot to tie the game and give us a chance,” said Brockman. “He showed great leadership and his teammates trust him. A very heady, smart play by him with the time left—just a great play.”
Brockman shifted gears and said that the way District 16 was set up, the Hornets had two games (Cumberland and Russell County) to win one to secure the third spot in the tournament. “We were playing really well when we beat Cumberland the first time by seven points,” Brockman continued. “We are going through a little slump right now as a team. Tonight, was a good example when we got down 30-18. We cannot do that against a team we are evenly matched up against.”
“Hats off to Coach Mac and his team,” added Brockman.
Brockman said that London, Devore, and Austin (Ford) all played well and brought a lot of positive energy. He said they got two leads but ECHS had an answer both times (once with a shot “from the volleyball line”).
“When you are missing shots you normally make and suffering from unforced turnovers, you are going to fall behind early,” the coach concluded on the loss. “We fought back but we can’t afford to do that in these crucial games remaining and then in the tournament. We could not catch a break in the first half. In the second half, the ball bounced our way but just not good enough.”