De-vil Na-tion (clap-clap, clap-clap-clap)
By the coach’s estimate, it was the largest crowd the young women student-athletes had played against all season; Monday night game is 6:30 pm at home against Catawba Ridge uh– PHOTO GALLERY.
Maybe that’s what contributed to a “slow start” by both teams. Not “slow,” really, more like too pumped up for shots to drop.
In the end, the Clinton High Varsity Girls Basketball team wins, 30-24, against a feisty Woodruff team. It is the Clinton girls’ first Region Championship since 2012 – that team played for the Upper State Championship.
Indicative of the nerves on both side, Clinton led 4-1 after the 1st, 8-7 at the half, and 16-15 after the 3rd. Clinton did not lead wire-to-wire and the charity stripe decided the contest with 9.3 seconds on the game clock.
De’Shanti Watts scored 12 points, Tinique Austin corralled 12 rebounds – Clinton got 40 rebounds. Payton Price-Walker swatted away 5 blocks.
Head Coach John Gardner said, “It feels really good, it wasn’t always pretty. At the end of the day if you score more points than the other team, you win the game.
“That was by far the biggest crowd they have played in front of. People have been talking to them about it, really, since we lost to (Woodruff) the first time, so it’s been in their heads. And, you know, for Woodruff, that’s a big crowd to play in front of on the road.
“I told them, they need to tell all their class and family thanks for coming out. That was an awesome atmosphere.
“Look, it was not pretty, not pretty at all. That’s why we preach defense because if you play defense, you’re going to keep yourself in games even when shots aren’t going in. When shots weren’t going in, we played defense and there at the end we got a couple to go in. We were terrible at the free throw line. When we needed to, we salted it away.
“That’s two really good basketball teams. Very physical – lots of times, that’s what it’s going to look like. I’m so proud of them – the most exciting thing is that whole team comes back next year, and we’re probably a little ahead of schedule. It’s a team full of sophomores, two juniors and a freshman. That team right there played in a playoff game last year. They’ve had some highs and some lows, so you start to see some of that experience coming out there.
“It was an awesome night. I hope they enjoyed it.”
Clinton went 12-of-26 from the foul line, and hit 8-of-41 shots.
Clinton ends the regular season 20-4, 9-1 in Region 3A. Woodruff is 19-5, 8-2 in region. The playoffs start Monday.
(Stats on golaurens.com – Monte Dutton)