Dawgs rebound from Jackson Co. defeat to top Friendship Christian

 

By KEVIN DONALDSON

CELINA-The Clay County High Bulldogs bounced back from their first district defeat at Jackson County earlier in the week to top Friendship Christian School here 49-41 Friday night in a battle of schools that have been ranked in the top 10 of the state.

The Bulldogs and Commanders had each been ranked in the Class A Associated Press top ten teams in the first three polls of the season, and the two squads treated fans to the second close game between them. The Bulldogs held on for a 60-55 win in Lebanon in December.

Clay County improved to 16-5 on the season with the win, while FCS fell to 16-3. Eagleville is the only  team besides the Bulldogs to defeat the Commanders this season. The Dawgs and FCS have met many times in the region tournament through the years, and this could be another one of those.

This game was close from start to finish. No more than seven points separated the teams until the closing seconds, with the Bulldogs’ final margin coming on four free throws in the final 33.4 seconds. 

Friendship led by as many as four in the first quarter, but a bucket by Shawn Garrett and a late three-pointer by Brian Korth gave Clay County a 10-9 lead after one.

CCHS forged ahead by as many as five two times in the second quarter, but Friendship, behind the scoring of Parker Teeter, clawed back. The first five-point lead came at 18-13 on two buckets by Garrett, and baskets by Caleb Lynn and Nolan Dale, while the second one came on a free throw by Nathan Knight.

Buckets by Knight and Scott Brown made it 23-20 a couple of minutes later, but Teeter scored from the inside to cut the lead to a point. A late drive down the lane by Dale just before the buzzer made it 25-22, Clay County, at the half.

The scoring pace slowed back down in the third quarter, as both teams struggled to find the basket. Tyler Edwards made it 27-22 with a bucket, and a three-pointer by Brown pushed the Clay lead to 32-26. Another Dale drive made it 35-28, the Dawgs’ biggest lead until the final seconds. It was 35-30 heading into the fourth.

The Commanders outscored the Dawgs 7-2 in the first 2:43 of the fourth quarter to knot the game at 37. CCHS regained the lead for good on a bucket by Garrett, with Dale getting the assist, and Dale hit a pair of free throws to make it 41-37 with 3:37 left.

The Dawgs struggled from the line in the final quarter, but wound up sealing the win from there with six free throws in the final couple of minutes. Knight made it 45-39 with just under a minute left on a pass from Garrett, and Dale pushed the lead back out to six with a pair of free throws at the 33.4-second mark. Edwards provided the winning margin with another pair of foul shots with just under 22 seconds left, and the Dawgs came up with a couple of steals in the final half-minute to preserve the win. Edwards was four of four in the final two minutes from the line. 

Dale, Edwards and Garrett all hit in double figures for CCHS, while Teeter led all scorers with 21 for FCS.

DAWGS (49)-Dale 12, Garrett 11, Brown 5, Edwards 11, Knight 5, Korth 3, Lynn 2.

Jackson County……………..42

Dawgs……………………………41

After the first quarter and midway through the second quarter, it looked like the Dawgs were on their way to keeping their District 7-A record spotless, but the Blue Devils had other ideas.

Jackson County came back from a nine-point deficit after the first quarter and a 15-point deficit in the second quarter, and survived a couple of late potential  game-winning shots to hand the Bulldogs their first district setback. 

The game started out well enough for Clay County, as they jumped out to a 19-10 lead after one quarter. That wound up being basically half the offensive output for the Dawgs on the night, however. The lead ballooned into double digits in the second quarter before the Blue Devils gained their bearings, and cut the deficit to 27-20 at intermission.

The third quarter proved to be the Dawgs’ undoing, as they scored only three points in the period and the Blue Devils took a three-point lead into the fourth quarter. 

The final period was close all the way. The Blue Devils failed on a late opportunity at the foul line to go up by three, and the Bulldogs had a couple of late shots at the win, but could not connect on a shot before the final buzzer. 

Garrett led the Dawgs with 14, while Korth added eight. 

DAWGS (41)-Brown 5, Dale 5, Edwards 7, Garrett 14, Knight 2, Korth 8.