Clinton finishes strong to end regular season

Clinton High School’s boys basketball team dialed a little long distance en route to a victory Thursday night.

The Dragons, who were without starting point guard Evan Winchester, combined to bury 13 three-point shots in a 67-60 victory at Hardin Valley Academy.

Winchester, one of the team’s top scorers, was shelved with a high ankle sprain but the Dragons didn’t miss a beat as they boasted a balanced offensive attack.

“Being without Evan is tough because he’s been our starting point guard for three-and-a-half years now and he’s a huge part of our team,” Clinton coach Chris Lockard said. “We have four sophomores that we’re using to replace him and they’re doing a great job.”

In Winchester’s absence, the Dragons got 22 points (including three 3-pointers in the first half) from freshman Jackson Garner. Chase Lockard finished with 13 points for Clinton (14-12) and Trace Wandell had 10. Trace Thackerson added nine and Rishon Bright scored eight as the Dragons nabbed a big non-district win over a tough and physical foe.

“This was a great team win for us,” coach Lockard said. “Hardin Valley is tough. They’re good and they’re physical and they’re one of the toughest teams in the region.

“This game was physical at times and then, it was skill-oriented.”

The Dragons darted out to an early 16-10 lead as they hit four long-range jumpers in the opening frame. Garner knocked down two of those shots while Chase Lockard and Bright made one apiece.

From there, Clinton just got hotter from beyond the 3-point arc and Hawks’ coach Shane Chambers said he knew that that would probably happen.

“We knew their game plan coming in. We knew they were going to come in here and shoot a bunch of 3’s and we knew that we had to stop them,” Chambers said. “And we didn’t do a good job defending them. They’re a good team and that’s why we scheduled them.

“You always want to play a team like Clinton, even if it’s late in the year. Playing a physical team like that will prepare us for our district tournament. They’re physical and our district tournament is going to be physical.”

Hardin Valley (13-13) answered a few of Clinton’s punches and trailed 49-45 before the Dragons pulled away in the fourth quarter.

Avery Sonenshein paced Hardin Valley with 14 points. Hudson Stokes added 13 and Skyler O’Neal finished with 12.