Survival of the fittest

Dragons block Farragut to advance to region semis

  • Rishon Bright fades away, putting up two points in the game against Farragut. The Dragons won 52-50. - Collin Riggs

  • Lane Harrison shoots over an Admiral defender in the game against Farragut. The Dragons won 52-50. - Collin Riggs

Despite a rough third quarter, the Dragons beat Farragut from a blocked shot at the buzzer, taking a 52-50 win in the region tournament Saturday.

After a hard 76-61 loss to Oak Ridge in the final match of the district tournament, the Dragons hosted the Farragut Admirals for the first game of the region.

With a neck and neck first quarter, the teams entered the second quarter with Clinton ahead 15-13. While the Dragons took an early lead, they hit a dry streak in the second quarter, only scoring eight points to Farragut’s 12.

The Admirals entered the second half ahead 25-23, and increased their through the third quarter as Clinton seriously struggled on shooting throughout the game, missing easy layups and drives as Farragut slipped further away.

In the fourth quarter, though, some contested threes went the Dragons way, giving them a much needed boost in confidence, as well as allowing them to cut the lead. The Dragons outscored the Admirals 17-9 in the fourth quarter, putting them at their final score.

While the Dragons took the lead with seconds left on the clock, Farragut made two pushes that could have tied the game, or even put Farragut ahead. The first of those drives came from a three-point shot that bounced off the rim.

Clinton’s Tyler Morgan fought for that rebound with Farragut’s Tyler Carbaugh, with the jump ball going to the Dragons. A defensive foul gave Clinton’s Rishon Bright two free throws, of which he made one. Admirals gained the ball with ten seconds left on the clock. Farragut’s Carter Mayfield drove to the basket and quickly passed it to an open Jake Bishop who jumped – and had it cleanly blocked by Clinton’s Jeremiah Blauvelt, ending the game with Clinton up 52-50.

Clinton, in a reversal of fortune, actually dominated on two-point baskets for a change, only making three treys the entire night to Farragut’s nine. What kept Clinton easily in the game, though, were the 21 free throws Farragut gave them, of which they made 17. Clinton, meanwhile, only gave Farragut seven.

Clinton severely struggled on rebounds too, losing out on offensive rebounds 1-10 against the Admirals and 11-18 on defensive rebounds. That being said, Clinton forced 12 turnovers for the night, scoring 16 points off those turnovers.

Lead scorer for the night was again Jackson Garner with 18 points. Behind Garner, Rishon Bright came in with 13, while Lane Harrison came in with nine. Garner finished with the team’s only offensive rebound for the night as well as two deflections. Trace Thackerson, while only finishing with seven points, again showed up as a team player for the Dragons with the most assists on the team (3) and two steals.

Chris Lockard, the head coach of the Dragons, said it was what he was expecting.

“I think it was every bit the game I thought it was going to be,” said Lockard. “Unfortunately, we didn’t shoot the ball well – at all. We had a lot of clean looks, but we hit some big baskets late. I thought it was sort of a lot of a chess match for us, since they’re so much bigger than us in a lot of areas, so I was having to manipulate our defense a little bit more than we typically do.

“We didn’t score in transition like we normally do, but we made some adjustments and started getting a lot of good looks. We got Rishon in the paint and he was scoring. We got those walk-in threes too – but we just didn’t hit them.”

While there were big flaws for the Dragons, Lockard said there were plenty of positives.

“Our boys’ ability to score in the open part of the floor was a big part of this win, and then we had Jeremiah Blauvelt with the big block, and Tyler Morgan with those two big rebounds, and Lane Harrison with the big deflection and rebound. I thought those three guys came up really big for us. Then we had Trace Thackerson all over the floor all night long – and he was just great.

“Even with our relative lack of rebounds, number-wise, I was still really pleased with our rebounding against such a physically large team, and we’ll have to carry that over going forward.”