Clay County Sweeps Pickett County In Byrdstown

Story and Photos by Rusty Ellis

The Clay County Lady Bulldogs used their patented defense to take down district foe Pickett County 50-43 on Tuesday.

The entirety of the first half saw both defenses put together good showings, as Clay took a 10-6 lead into the second quarter. They matched those 10 points in the second frame, outscoring the Lady Bobcats 10-8. This led to a 20-14 lead at the break for Clay County.

Pickett County opened the third with a quick 9-0 run to take a 23-20 lead, but it was the Lady Bulldogs who closed the quarter on a 12-4 run to maintain a 32-27 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

There, Clay County got enough stops late to close the game out for a 50-43 victory, putting them atop the district standings.

Halle Buford led the way with 16 points, while Briley Burchett added 13. Pickett’s Emmy Lowe paced all scorers with 21 points.

The Lady Bulldogs held Pickett to just 30.4% shooting from the floor, a typical defensive trademark of head coach Matthew Walker.

“You hold teams to 43 points, you’re going to have a chance,” Walker said. “Rebounding is a part of defense, and especially when you have a lead late like we did, we knew Pickett was going to fight for every loose ball. It was a gut-check for us.”

As mentioned earlier, the win now puts Clay County at the top of the district standings. While it’s a good place to be, Walker also wants to make sure his team is peaking at the right time.

“Take the win on the road, this was a gritty road win,” Walker said. “You’ve got to be playing your best ball come tournament time, so hopefully we haven’t peaked yet.”

The Bulldogs followed the girls up with a dominant defensive showing, defeating the Bobcats 64-23.

Pickett’s lone score in the first quarter came via a Hunter Wattenbarger three-pointer to give the Bobcats a 3-2 lead. From that point on, Clay closed the quarters on an 8-0 run to take a 10-3 lead into the second quarter.

Clay’s defense continued its excellent showing in the second, holding Pickett to a single bucket and taking a 22-5 lead into the break after a Grant Strong buzzer-beater.

The Bobcat offense began to make some progress in the third, cutting the deficit down to 30-15, but Clay went on an 18-2 run to close the frame and take a 48-17 lead into the fourth.

There, they cruised to the finish line with a 64-23 victory over Pickett County.

Strong paced all scorers with 32 points, while Jimmy Burchett added nine points for head coach Rob Edwards.

“Defensively, we played the best we have all season,” Edwards said. “We knew they shoot the ball really well, especially at home, so we knew we had to defend the three…Pickett’s a great offensive rebounding team as well, so we knew we had to keep them off the glass.”

Clay’s defense appears to have made real strides in the past few games leading into Tuesday night’s contest, but Edwards knows they still have work to do.

“I’d like to see a little bit more before I say we’ve turned a corner,” Edwards said. “This is one of our better performances of the season. When we play like that, we’re pretty hard to handle.”

Clay County will now turn their focus to Trousdale County on Friday, while Pickett will look to rebound at York Institute on Thursday.