Bulldogs in 7-A championship; home game in region opener set

 

LIVINGSTON-The Clay County Bulldogs advanced to the championship game in the boys District 7-A tournament and guaranteed themselves a home game in the first round of regional play with a 42-27 win over Monterey last Friday. 

The semifinal win put the Dawgs in the finals against Clakrange, who beat Jackson County 52-51 in a thrilling finish in Friday’s second game. The boys title game was scheduled to be play last night (Tuesday). 

The top two finishers in district tourney play get to host a first-round regional game. This year’s regional semifinals and finals are set to be played in Watertown. 

The Bulldogs overcame a slow start and particularly icy second quarter to beat the Wildcats, with a 14-point run to close the third quarter providing the boost for the win. 

Buckets by Nolan Dale and Trent Boles, a three-pointer by Scott Brown and a three-point play by Nathan Knight gave CCHS a 10-6 lead after one in a fairly ordinary start to the game. In the second quarter, the game was an offensive struggle for both squads.

The Bulldogs and Wildcats combined for five points in the second quarter, with all five of those scored in the final two minutes before halftime. Clay County led 12-9 at intermission on a rebound bucket by Shawn Garrett just before the buzzer.

Things didn’t get better right away in the third quarter for the Bulldogs. The Wildcats hit a bucket to pull to within 12-11, but it was the 4:39 mark of the period before the Bulldogs dented the scoreboard again. When they did, the offense warmed up in a hurry. 

The Bulldogs scored 18 points over those final four and a half minutes, and allowed Monterey only three more points in the quarter to break open the game and take control. 

Shawn Garrett scored twice for Clay to make it 16-11, but the Wildcats responded with a three-pointer to cut the lead to two. That would wrap up the Monterey scoring for the quarter, but the Dawgs were just getting started. 

CCHS rolled off 14 straight points to end the period. 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 got the three-point play on that trip, while Dale hit the two free throws and added a drive in the lane to complete the seven-point possession, pushing the score to 26-14. Brown added a pair of free throws later in the quarter, and Garrett hit another layup to make it 30-14, Clay County, at the end of three. 

The closest Monterey got after that was 11 points, at 30-19. The Bulldogs kept the Wildcats at bay in the fourth quarter with 10 free throws in the final five minutes or so. Knight’s driving bucket was the only field goal of the period for Clay County. Dale hit six free throws in the closing minutes, while Brown and Garrett added a pair each. Unofficially, the Dawgs connected on 16 of 17 free throws for the game. 

Garrett (13), Nolan Dale (12) and Scott Brown (10) all hit double figures in scoring for Clay County, while Knight added five and Boles two. 

The win was the 23rd of the season for the Bulldogs, who had won 12 of 14 games heading into the 7-A title contest.

JUST BARELY IN-The referee looks down to make sure Clay County's Brian Korth is still inbounds along the sidelines as he tries to make a steal in the Dawgs' District 7-A semifinal win over Monterey. (Staff photo by Kevin Donaldson)

JUST BARELY IN-The referee looks down to make sure Clay County's Brian Korth is still inbounds along the sidelines as he tries to make a steal in the Dawgs' District 7-A semifinal win over Monterey

ALMOST GOT THERE-Clay County's Trent Boles tries to block a shot by Monterey's Michael Buckner in the Bulldogs' District 7-A tournament win over the Wildcats. (Staff photos by Kevin Donaldson)ALMOST GOT THERE-Clay County’s Trent Boles tries to block a shot by Monterey’s Michael Buckner in the Bulldogs’ District 7-A tournament win over the Wildcats. (Staff photos by Kevin Donaldson)