CHS goes 1-1 in first two games of tourney
The Clinton High School Dragons (9-6, 3-2) traveled to Hancock County High School over the weekend to compete in the Hancock Pizza Plus Christmas Classic.
In their first two contests, the Dragons faced Cocke County and Hancock County.
On Thursday, Clinton fell to the Fighting Cocks 55-51, but then responded with a 58-53 win over a solid Hancock County Indians squad. On Saturday, the Dragons faced the Tornadoes of Alcoa High School, but the results of the contest were unavailable by press time.
The Dragons never led against Cocke County, but the Fighting Cocks’ lead never grew more than a nine-point advantage.
Clinton struggled offensively — shooting only 33.9-percent from the floor.
Even with their struggles, the Dragons stayed in the ballgame.
Trailing 15-9 after the first quarter, Clinton held Cocke County to only five second quarter points. Yet, Clinton only put eight on the board, and trailed by three at the half — 20-17.
Shots started to go down in the second half, as five Dragons would contribute points. Senior Luke Harrison led the way with four third quarter points.
The Dragons would hang around, but Cocke County would retain the lead, and take a 36-30 advantage into the fourth.
At the start of the fourth quarter, Clinton would fight and grind their way to pull within four.
However, it would be answered by a Fighting Cocks’s 5-0 run.
The Dragons pulled within three points late in the ballgame, but Clinton was unable to find a way to victory. Harrison would lead the Dragons offensively, finishing with 12 points.
Clinton would respond the next day, grinding out a five point win over a 14-2 Hancock County team.
After trailing 6-5 early in the second quarter, the Dragons would take a nine point advantage heading into halftime. Clinton would refuse to give up the lead for the rest of the game.
Throughout the third quarter, the Dragons maintained a ten-plus-point lead.
The Indians made a fourth quarter push, but Clinton would hold on for a well-earned win.
The Dragons shot 45.7-percent from the floor.
Junior Evan Winchester would lead all scorers with 18 points—hitting six-of-seven from the charity stripe.
The Dragons need these away/neutral site games, because the January 3 trip to District 3AAA rival Oak Ridge begins a three-game stint away from the comforts of “The Donny Dome.” The Dragons will return home on the 11th of the new year, to host Knoxville Central in a district affair.
If Clinton starts to gain momentum at the right time, a top-two spot is not farfetched. Clinton’s weakness—the Dragons momentum and level of play slumps when they struggle to hit shots. When Clinton, as a team, finds a way to play defense at an elite level during small offensive droughts, look out. Repetitive stops equals momentum, for the whole unit, which is important on both ends of the floor—not just the frontcourt. While sitting in fifth in District 3AAA seems like nail-biting time, the Dragons are an athletic, well-rounded squad of ballers. With a 3-2 district record, do not sleep on this team.