It was a busy week before Christmas for Clinton High School boys basketball games. The Dragons split four games last week.
CHS closed out the week with a victory in the seventh-place game of the Heritage Holiday Tournament in Maryville Thursday. CHS battled some offensive struggles but manufactured enough firepower to capture a 43-38 victory over Cumberland County.
Clinton has one of the youngest and most-inexperienced teams in the state, but out of the gate, longtime head Coach Chris Lockard has been pleased with his squad’s progress.
“We’re playing better and we’ve gotten better sooner than I thought we would have,” Lockard said after the Dragons notched the victory in the defensive struggle against the Jets. “But now, we’re getting ready to head into the second half of the season and we need to find our identity.”
Points came at a premium for both teams Thursday as Cumberland County and Clinton (6-6) combined to score just 10 in the first quarter with the Dragons holding a slim 6-4 advantage.
The Dragons, however, were able to create some separation as they outscored the Jets, 15-5, in the second stanza but Cumberland County would put up 20 points in the third frame and pull to within 30-29 heading into the fourth quarter.
“Cumberland County is a team that’s kind of like us,” Lockard said. “They have some good players and they’re young.”
Things didn’t go easily for the Dragons, but a modest surge over the final eight minutes would propel Clinton into the win column after it opened the tournament with two losses to a pair of good teams.
Jeremiah Lee scored 14 points, despite just going 4-for-13 from the floor and 2-for-6 from the free throw line. Lee, however, was effective from long range as he knocked down 4-of-8 of his field goal attempts from beyond the 3-point arc.
Lebron Booker scored six points, while Bryson Maddox and Kaden Ison finished with five points each for the Dragons.
In the consolation semifinals, Clinton dropped a 71-39 decision Wednesday to Knoxville’s West High School, one of the area’s quickest and most-athletic teams.
“The biggest difference in the game against West was their speed,” Lockard said. “We did some good things, but they just had too much speed and they have a lot of depth.”
Maddox finished with eight points against the Rebels.
The Dragons lost to Boyd Buchanan, 61-42, in the tournament opener for both teams despite 12 points from Maddox.
Clinton opened its busy week at home on Monday, Dec. 19, with a 66-59 victory over Kingston as Lee scored 35 points against the Yellow Jackets.
Lady Dragons split four games: Clinton’s girls finished fourth in the Heritage Holiday Tournament as they lost to Morristown East 65-37 on Thursday. In Wednesday’s tournament semifinals, the Lady Dragons lost to Cumberland County 60-36.
In its tournament opener, Clinton defeated Covington 75-45 on Tuesday, Dec. 20.
The Lady Dragons edged Kingston, 75-66 at home on Dec. 19.