By Rusty Ellis
The Clay County Lady Bulldogs jumped out to a big lead early and never looked back on Tuesday in their 61-37 win over the Gordonsville Tigerettes.
Clay started the game off about as perfectly as they could’ve, scoring the first 15 points of the game and limiting the Tigerettes to just two first-quarter points, en route to taking a 15-2 lead into the second quarter.
Gordonsville appeared to make some headway in the second, building a little bit more rhythm offensively with 13 points in the frame. Clay County outscored them by four however, leading to a 32-15 advantage for the Lady Bulldogs at the half.
The Tigerettes opened the third quarter with the first four points by either team, but then the floodgates opened and Clay outscored them 19-6 the rest of the way to push the lead to 51-25 and it was all smooth sailing from there, as Clay County moved to 4-0 in District 7A play with their 61-37 win over Gordonsville.
Briley Burchett and Halle Buford each posted a game-high 16 points, while Abby Head scored 15 of her own. Molly Storie led Gordonsville with 12 points and four three-pointers off the bench.
As it always does for head coach Matthew Walker, the success for his team began at the defensive end of the floor.
“We fouled them a little early and gave up some free throws in the first half,” Walker said. “We had to get back to basics on our defense…getting back to basics and not putting them on the line was key for us. We didn’t reach a lot early and then we did later in the half when we started pressing.”
Clay’s start in district play can’t be understated, as they’ve now defeated all four of their opponents. As good as the talent and coaching in the league is, Walker knows there’s still a long road ahead.
“We’ve had three of the four on the road, so that’s nice to know we get to come back home for most of them now,” Walker said. “We’ve seen them all now, so now we have four more games to respond to.”
The Bulldogs followed up with a win of their own to stay undefeated in district play, as they took down the Tigers 49-41.
Clay’s defense showed out early like in the girl’s game, as they held the home team to just six first-quarter points and led 11-6 heading into the second frame.
There, Gordonsville bounced back thanks to some transition baskets, and managed to knot the score at 18-18 by the time halftime rolled around.
The Bulldogs took over the scoreboard in the third quarter, as they outscored Gordonsville 18-9 in the frame. That proved to be all the difference in the final score, as Gordonsville cut the lead down to five multiple times but just couldn’t get the stops they needed to pull out the victory.
The win puts Clay County firmly in the driver’s seat for District 7A, as they are now 4-0 in league play.
Keaton Arms led the way with 17 points for the Bulldogs. Brodie Sykes paced Gordonsville with 17 of his own.
The third quarter proved to be the biggest difference in the game for head coach Rob Edwards, as he says his team got back to playing their game and great defense.
“I thought in the second half, we picked up our effort level a lot,” Edwards said. “They got a lot of the 50-50 balls and that’s what we talked about at halftime…being able to stay in front of them and not let them get straight line-drives to the basket, these guys responded well in the second half.”
Knowing some of the challenges that still await Clay on their schedule, Edwards emphasized to his players that it’ll take efforts like this to get to where they want to be.
“We can’t just play for 28 minutes,” Edwards said. “When you get to tournament time, if you only play for 28 minutes, you’re going to lose. So that’s something we’ve got to grow in and get better at as a team…district-wise, this is what it’s going to be every night. That’s what we expect and we’re looking forward to it.”
Clay will battle Red Boiling Springs on Friday at home, while Gordonsville’s next game is at Clarkrange on Friday.