Standing room only expected as Bulldogs, Buffaloes meet in 7-A boys championship game


LIVINGSTON-The gym will be packed again here Tuesday night when the Clay County Bulldogs and Clarkrange Buffaloes meet in the District 7-A championship game. 

The number one seed Bulldogs overcame an icy start to turn back #4 seed Monterey 42-27 in the semifinals last Friday, while the second-seeded Buffaloes overcame a monster run in the middle of the game by Jackson County to beat the Blue Devils in the closing seconds 52-51.

In the opening game on Friday, Clay County led 10-6 after one before the proverbial lid went on the basket for both teams. The Bulldogs and Wildcats combined for five points in the second quarter, with all five of those scored in the final minute before halftime. Clay County led 12-9 at intermission on a rebound bucket by Shawn Garrett just before the buzzer.

The deep freeze continued in the first part of the third quarter for the two squads. Clay County led 12-11 with 4:39 left in the quarter before the Bulldogs heated up. It was 16-14, Clay County, before a 14-point spurt by the Bulldogs to close the period put them up by 16 after three and pretty much sealed the verdict. A big key in that 14-point run was seven points on one trip down the court for Clay County. The Dawgs converted a three-point play, two technical foul shots and another bucket to go from five ahead to up by a dozen in a span of just a few seconds. 

Garrett (13), Nolan Dale (12) and Scott Brown (10) all hit double figures in scoring for Clay County. 

IN THE SECOND GAME, Clarkrange scored the first seven points of the contest, and then saw Jackson County, the third seed, start on a run that eventually wound up being a 28-9 margin, ending in the third quarter. 

The Buffaloes led 11-7 after one, but trailed 23-16 at intermission as the Blue Devils clawed their way back. The Blue Devils completed their big run and led 28-16 after scoring the first five points of the third quarter, but Clarkrange found their shooting touch and trailed only 38-33 after three. 

The Buffaloes continued to slowly close the gap in the fourth. Clarkrange took the lead for the first time since early in the second quarter at the 3:26 mark of the fourth (44-42), but the Blue Devils responded with six straight points, taking a 48-44 lead with just under two minutes left. District 7-A player of the year Brandon Upchurch closed the gap to one for Clarkrange with a three-pointer at the 1:30 mark, but Jackson County kept the lead until the final seconds. 

Steven Jones scored the eventual winning points for the Buffaloes on three-point play, grabbing a missed shot for a putback and adding the free throw with nine seconds left to make it 52-51. The Blue Devils had a couple of good looks at the basket in the closing seconds, but couldn’t get one to fall. 

Jake Aldermen (16), Upchurch (14) and Jones (11) scored in double figures for Clarkrange, while Jared Robinson (18) and Jordan Godwin (14) led the Blue Devils.