Bulldogs take 7-A title; advance to region semifinal


CELINA-The Clay County Bulldogs advanced to the second round of regional play with a 54-41 win over Gordonsville here Saturday, just four days after winning the District 7 tournament championship.

The Bulldogs topped Clarkrange in the 7-A tourney finals last Tuesday, and hosted Gordonsville in an opening-round region game on Saturday. They carried a 25-6 record into last night’s Region 4 semifinal against district foe Jackson County.

The boys’ region finals are scheduled to be held tomorrow night at Watertown. 





The Bulldogs led most of the way in this one, but it was late in the fourth quarter before they were able to put the game away, making it past some shaky free-throw shooting in the game, especially the final period. 

A five-minute-plus scoring drought by the Bulldogs from late in the first to midway through the second quarter got the Tigers back in the game when it looked like CCHS had them on the ropes in the early going.

Gordonsville led 7-5 in the first quarter before the Dawgs ran off 10 straight points. Tyler Edwards took care of six of those points with a pair of three-pointers, while Shawn Garrett and Steve Dersham added buckets to complete the run, putting CCHS up 15-7 with 1:54 left in the first.

From that point until the 4:30 mark of the second quarter, the Dawgs couldn’t find the basket, though, letting the Tigers pull to within one (15-14). Garrett broke the drought for Clay with a bucket, spurring a 7-2 run that put them up by six. Including in that quick run was a bucket by Edwards on a nice three-quarter-court baseball pass from Scott Brown. A late Tiger bucket made it 22-18 at intermission. 

The start of the third quarter was a slow one for both teams. It was 24-20 at the 3:34 mark of the period before Nolan Dale made a steal and bucket. The Dawgs went up 29-22 on a layup by Garrett, who had left earlier in the quarter with an injury, but Gordonsville trimmed the lead to 29-27 with a late three-pointer. 

The Tigers scored the first points of the final eight minutes to tie the game at 29, the first time the score had been tied since 5-5. The Bulldogs responded with nine straight points to regain the momentum and they never trailed again, although the Tigers did pull to within four points with less than four minutes left.

In a game where free throws were a frequent occurrence and an adventure for the Dawgs, they hit seven in that nine-point run and Dale added a bucket on a nice pass from Garrett to put CCHS up 38-29. Gordonsville refused to give up, though, and eventually pulled to within 40-36 on a couple of quick buckets. 

Garrett and Nathan Knight stopped the Tiger run with buckets on passes from Dale and Edwards, making it 44-36. 

The Bulldogs closed out the game by canning 10 free throws, but they struggled in the process, missing 12 of 16 at one stretch. The Dawgs shot a whopping 45 free throws for the game (making 25) and were 19 of 32 in the fourth quarter.  

DAWGS (54)-Edwards 16, Garrett 13, Knight 6, Dersham, Brown 4, Dale 12. 




A strong first half and a steady dose of free throws in the final quarter were big keys to the Bulldogs’ win over Clarkrange in the District 7-A tournament finals, the third of the year for CCHS over the Buffaloes.

The Bulldogs scored 13 points in a row after falling behind 4-0 in the early going to take control of the contest, and fought off two different Buffalo comebacks to wrap up the 7-A title. 

Dale was very active offensively in the first two quarters, scoring the first seven points of the game for the Dawgs, and 16 of the team’s 26 points at halftime. He had 11 of the team’s 15 points in the first quarter, as the Dawgs led by six after one.

The lead increased to 26-14 at intermission before the Buffaloes made a big run to get back in the game, scoring the first 10 points of the third quarter to cut the lead to two. 

Crucial steals and baskets by Knight and Garrett stopped the Clarkrange momentum and helped the Bulldogs lead by eight (32-24) at the end of three. Edwards’ running one-hander at the buzzer gave the Dawgs that cushion heading into the fourth.

The Bulldogs scored 21 points from the free throw line in the contest and the bulk of those came in the final eight minutes. They canned 14 foul shots in the fourth quarter, but hit a streak where they connected on only three of seven. 

That opened the door for the Buffaloes again, and they cut the lead to three when 7-A regular-season MVP Brandon Upchurch drained a long three from the left side to make it 40-37. 

Clay County regained its free throw touch right after that, though. A basket by Garrett, one of only two in the period for the Dawgs, made it 42-27 and Clay County hit eight of 10 the rest of the way from the free throw line (all in the last 1:33 of the game) to put it away.

Dale led all scorers with 21 points, while Garrett added 13. The Bulldogs placed five players on the all-tournament team (see related photo), with Garrett getting MVP honors. 

Jackson County’s boys easily defeated Monterey to win the consolation game. 

DAWGS (50)-Dale 21, Garrett 13, Dersham 2, Knight 5, Edwards 7, Brown 2.