FAMILIAR FOES: Bulldogs and Buffaloes to meet again in Region 4-A championship

 

By KEVIN DONALDSON

WATERTOWN-The Clay County Bulldogs and Clarkrange Buffaloes will meet for a fourth time this season when they face off in the Region 4-A championship game here Thursday night.

The Bulldogs advanced to the finals with a 61-44 win over 7-A foe Jackson County, while the Buffaloes defeated 8-A champ Friendship Christian 59-51.

Both teams used crucial swings to take their wins in semifinal play. Clarkrange trailed 17-14 after the first period against Friendship, but took control of the contest with a 21-8 margin in the second quarter. District 7-A player of the year Brandon Upchurch led the Buffaloes with 22 points against the Commanders, who finished the season with only four losses. Clay County defeated FCS twice in close games.

The Bulldogs trailed Jackson County 37-36 with only 5:49 left in the game, but ended the contest on a 25-7 scoring run to notch their 26th win of the season against only six losses. In a sharp contrast to their opening-round region game against Gordonsville, the Bulldogs were quite efficient from the free throw line in this contest, missing only six for the game. The Bulldogs canned 17 free throws in the final eight minutes to seal the verdict. 

The Bulldogs led 10-9 after one, 24-20 at intermission, and 36-31 after three quarters, scoring an important late bucket in each period. The Bulldogs’ biggest lead before the closing minutes of the final quarter was at 30-20 with 6:20 left in the third quarter, but the Blue Devils scored nine straight points to get back in the game. They also scored the first six points of the final quarter to take a one-point lead before the Bulldogs went on their big closing run to defeat Jackson County for the second time in three meetings this season. 

Four Bulldogs scored in double figures for the game, and a fifth had seven points, in a very balanced scoring effort. 

The region girls final on Wednesday will also be an all-District 7 matchup, with unbeaten Clarkrange squaring off against Pickett County. The Lady Bobcats have defeated 8-A tourney champ Friendship and 7-A runnerup Jackson County on their way to the finals.