Anderson County takes first round of rivalry

Howser scores career high; Dragons couldn’t find charity stripe

  • Clinton’s Abbie Stinnett and Anderson County’s Jayce Braden battle for a rebound Friday night. - David Woods

  • Clinton’s evan Winchester drives and skies for a two-point attempt Friday night against Anderson County. - David Woods

Regardless of which side of “the bridge” your loyalty lies, there is one inevitable truth: Both Clinton and Anderson County High Schools have talented, exciting basketball teams.

This past Friday, Anderson County hosted cross-town rival Clinton. Before the 6 p.m. tipoff of the ladies’ matchup, the bleachers on both sides of Anderson County’s hardwood were packed.

The host Lady Mavs would win 69-57, while the Mavs took a hard-fought 58-57 victory.

Supporters who witnessed both games were treated with up-tempo, intense contests. Both boys and girls teams from the two respective schools have different styles of play, are good at what they do, and are filled with athleticism.

The Anderson County Lady Mavs (6-0, 2-0) quickly realized that their rivals would be a challenging test. The Clinton Lady Dragons (3-3, 1-1) battled, and kept the Lady Mavs within reach.

However, Anderson County would pull away in the second half behind the career high of sharp shooting senior guard, Maci Howser. Howser’s 27 points would lead the Lady Mavs to the win over Clinton — Anderson County’s second District 3-3A win.

“Having a game like that is more than special, because the whole team has worked so hard to get where we are at,” said Howser.

The boys matchup followed, and it did not disappoint. A back-and-forth, up-and-down contest came down to the final possessions. Yet, the Mavs (4-3, 1-1), would knock down 11-of-12 free throws in the fourth quarter to escape with the win — the Mavs’ first District 3-3A win of the 2018-2019 campaign.

“We’re clutch. We hit (the free throws) under pressure. One point win tonight or a 20 point win tonight — a win is a win,” said Anderson County Senior Captain Grant Hayes.

The Dragons (5-2, 1-1) were unable to get to the charity stripe in the second half of play.

The girls’ matchup was close throughout the first half of play. Clinton’s Freshman guard Sarah Burton, and Senior post Abbie Stinnett had four points each, in the first quarter. Maci Howser knocked down two trey’s, and Freshman post Jayce Braden added four points of her own, which kept Anderson County within striking distance. The Lady Dragons took a 13-12 advantage into the second quarter. Yet, he Lady Mavs would have five different players contribute points in the second quarter. Howser would put up seven more points, which included a four-point-play. Anderson County would take momentum, and a 29-23 lead into the break. The Lady Mavs were able to create some distance in the third quarter, outscoring the Lady Dragons 21-13. Howser put up seven points, which included a four-point-play for the second straight quarter. Senior post and 1000-rebound club member Brooklin McCoy added to her grand total; pulling down seven boards, and adding four points in the third quarter. Senior point guard Danyel Joy led the Lady Dragons with six of Clinton’s 13 third quarter points. Anderson County led 50-36 heading into the final quarter of play, and would see out the win. Would seven fourth quarter points from Maci Howser be a surprise? Do not worry, there was not another crazy four-point-play. However, the Senior guard would hit three field goals, and convert one of them into a three-point-play. She was true from three-point-land six times, added her three fourth quarter field goals, and went a perfect three-of-three from the line. However would finish with a career-high 27 points. “I feel like it is a huge win for us and will definitely help us in December,” said Howser. Brooklin McCoy continued to do Brooklin McCoy things—notching a double-double, finishing with 11 points and 13 boards. For the Lady Dragons, Burton would impressively lead Clinton with 16 points. Senior guard Nikki Jones would finish with 15 points, and Joy followed with 14 points.

The boys’ showdown was an intense, fast-paced contest from the opening tip. In the first quarter, Clinton’s Junior point guard Evan Winchester was the biggest threat on the floor. The Dragons had a 13-11 advantage at the end of the opening quarter—Winchester scored ten of those 13 points. However, the undersized Mavs were ready for a battle. Both teams shot just under 50 percent from the floor in the first half. However, Clinton missed all four attempted free throws. While Anderson County did not have a trip to the charity stripe, the Mavs only trailed by two at the half—24-22. Dragons Senior Luke Harrison had six points on three made field goals, in the second quarter. Yet, Mavs Senior Marquis Gallaher answered with six points on two makes from downtown. The contest continued to stay close throughout the third quarter. Harrison led the Dragons with four points, but four of his teammates hit one shot each. The Mavs had four players hit one shot each in the third quarter. Heading into the fourth quarter, Clinton led 37-34, and Anderson County seemed unable to put a small run together to draw even or take the lead. The first three quarters of the contest had a theme, low scoring and gritty. Yet, early in the fourth quarter, both teams saw shots start to fall. The pace and physicality of the game increased, and both teams ran the floor offensively as often as possible. The Dragons are comfortable in the open court, and run the floor with purpose. Clinton shot 9-of-14 from the floor, scoring 20 points. Anderson County only attempted nine shots in the fourth quarter, and hit six, scoring only 13 points. However, here is how Anderson County won the ballgame.

With 4:00 left to play, the game was tied 45-45. Two of Anderson County’s 13 fourth quarter points from the floor came from Senior Stanton Martin, who gets a steal which results in an uncontested layup. Anderson County takes the lead, 47-45. Clinton’s next possession—turnover. After killing some clock, Senior Grant Hayes drives into the lane and hits a layup on the ensuing Mavs’ possession. Mavs go up by four. Between this point and the end of the game, Clinton is forced to foul during the last 1:30, in attempt to extend the game and try to cut the Mavs’ lead back to one possession. The Dragons are unable to do so. The Mavs hit 11-of-12 from the charity stripe, and continue to hold their four point lead. A Clinton three pointer by Senior Andrew Shoopman made the contest a one point game. However, it was with three seconds left. Clinton was out of timeouts, could not stop the clock, and Anderson County holds on for the one point win, 58-57. The Mavs can use this win as a momentum booster, as December basketball is officially here. “We have to grind out the rest of the season,” said Hayes.

Anderson County was led in scoring by Grant Hayes, who finished with 12 points. Marquis Gallaher followed closely with 11 points. Logan Berry and Stanton Martin both earned 10 points each. The Dragons were led in scoring by Winchester, who finished the night with 18 points. Harrison and Junior Chase Lockard both racked up 12 points each. Both teams will be in action this Friday. Anderson County will host Campbell County. Tipoff for the Lady Mavs’ game is scheduled for 6:00. Clinton will host Coalfield. Tipoff for the Lady Dragons’ game is scheduled for 6:30.