Big games this week as Clinton gets two big rematches, Central and Oak Ridge, a team they barely beat and a team they barely lost to.
Meanwhile, Anderson County faces off against Karns and Campbell County.
Anderson County hosts Karns after the close loss to the Beavers in overtime two weeks ago, finishing 53-51. AC has had a rough go of things, losing hard to Central and Oak Ridge last week after beating Powell by only three points Jan 17.
That win was sorely needed for the Mavericks, but it didn’t give them the momentum needed to carry them through games against the dual powerhouse teams that are Central and Oak Ridge.
Whether that will mean Anderson County will come into the game against Karns hungry for a win or dejected and hesitant will be up to the Mavericks themselves.
Derek Wallace, head coach of the Mavericks, said the team is hopeful, but still cautious.
“It’s a rivalry game, just because we have gotten so many kids from them over the years,” he said. “Their crowd is usually big because they’re a team that travels, and they really want to win this game. They’re like a lot of teams in our league. They’re just good enough you’ve got to watch out.
“They’re a lot like Clinton, and I never take a Clinton or Campbell County game for granted. All three of us have had some battles over the years.”
After the game against Karns, Anderson County hosts Campbell County for a rematch after beating Campbell County on that team’s home court in December.
Campbell County’s sophomore shooters have had time to hone their skills while Anderson County’s shooting has been – well, hit or miss. Both teams are young, and a month and a half can make quite the difference in young players, so it will be interesting to see how the teams have progressed since they last met.
“Their point guard just broke our defense last game,” said Wallace. “He’s quick, maybe one of the quickest in the league, and we just couldn’t keep him from going where he wanted to go. We’ve done some things since the Powell game to fix that.
“Coming off the Oak Ridge game Friday, I’m feeling strangely good,” he said. “We improved a lot, we shot a better percentage than Oak Ridge, I think. We did a lot of things better. I think we’re continuing to improve and get better. We just went through a really, really tough stretch. We had six or seven road games in a row, and we’re ready to get back on the right side of things.”
Clinton’s first match of the week comes against Central. While the game was originally supposed to take place at Central High School, a power outage caused the teams to switch locations on the schedule. The Dragons’ last game against the Bobcats was a fast-paced, nail-biter that ended with a Dragon victory after they finally pulled away halfway through the fourth quarter. Still, the Bobcats beat the Mavericks handily and outlasted Powell in their rematch game Jan. 24, so they will come into the game with some momentum of their own to try to hang onto.
Clinton Head Coach Chris Lockard said it should be another big game, no matter who wins.
“It’s a huge swing game for momentum, and Central scares me to death,” he said. “They have size inside and speed on the perimeter. The hardest thing against them is to keep them off the glass and out of the paint. Stopping their penetration and that drive is really difficult for them. Hopefully we’ll have Demarcus back for the game. He was a big component in us winning the first game, and we really need him there.”
The big game of the week, though, will be Clinton’s rematch against Oak Ridge. The Dragons lost to Oak Ridge at home in December by only three points after a contentious call by a referee. Those referees are no longer allowed to officiate games at Clinton after the TSSAA agreed that the ruling was wrong and cost Clinton the game. Clinton and Oak Ridge have been teams to beat this season and the longtime rivalry between the two is historic. Whether Clinton should have won the previous game or not, this match should be close.
“Oak Ridge has a tough team,” said Lockard. “Their big kid on the inside is great and they have a couple of guys who shoot pretty consistently. You can’t really trick play them, and you just have to find a way to throw off their scheme. Mostly it comes down to being able to execute on the court and hit your shots. That’s critical in the Clinton-Oak Ridge game. It’s all about minimizing errors.
It’ll definitely be exciting, I know that. Our guys will play hard. It’s a tough place to play, and a tough place to win. We’re ready, though. It’s going to be fun.”