LEES CREEK — A cold-shooting second half doomed East Clinton in a 59-50 loss Friday to Williamsburg in SBAAC National Division boys basketball action at the EC gym.
Despite struggling offensively, the Astros’ defense drew the ire of head coach Tony Berlin.
“Our magic number is 50 points,” he said. “We need to hold teams to that to be successful. We have a long way to go but there are areas we are seeing improvement. Our turnovers were down tonight. We just have to learn to do the little things, that make a big difference.”
Prior to the game, Astro athletic director Jim Marsh and the coaches and players honored legendary coach Dean “Oakie” Waddell for his service as a part of Military Appreciation Month.
Hot shooting from guard Dakota Collom staked the home team to an early advantage. The freshman accounted for 9 straight Astro points.
“Dakota gave us a big spark tonight,” Berlin said. “His confidence is growing and he can really shoot the ball. He is gonna be a great player for us because he asks questions and is always working to improve himself.”
A late first quarter run from the Wildcats closed out the period with the visitors holding a 13-11 lead.
Most of the second quarter belonged to the home team as Astro leading scorer Branson Smith came alive after a slow start to the game. His strong play in the quarter included 8 points along with a couple key assists. A dish from Smith to Collum, who connected on a long 3, gave the Astros their largest lead, 31-22.
Williamsburg senior Trent Kreimer would not let the Astros pull away, as he drained two long 3s in the final moments of the half to tie things at 31 at the break.
“We had a nice lead, took a couple quick shots and turned the ball over and they took advantage,” Berlin said of the late WHS rally.
The third quarter proved to be sluggish offensively for both squads, as the two teams combined for only 17 points. On a field goal in the final seconds, the Wildcats claimed a 40-39 lead as action moved to the final period.
Things started out poorly for the Astros in the fourth as Williamsburg quickly opened up a 6-point lead. Successive field goals by Colton Vadnais cut the difference back to 45-43. But the Wildcats three-point shooting, which hurt the Astros all night, again was a major factor, as another lengthy jump shot put them back in control for good, as the clock ticked under three minutes.
Trent Kreimer paced the winning Wildcats with 18, including four 3s. Branson Smith led the Astros with 20 points and Collom finished with 14.
The Astros fall to 1-9 with the loss, while Williamsburg improves to 3-8. The Astros are right back in action Saturday night as they host county rival, Clinton-Masse.
“They will be hungry coming in here looking for a win,” said Berlin. “We have to play better tomorrow night if we expect to beat them.”
In the junior varsity game, Williamsburg came out on top 57-50. Trent Garen led East Clinton with 16 points.
In the freshman game, Williamsburg was a 53-37 winner. Cody Chaney paced the Astros offense with 12 points.
Brian Georges covers high school sports for the News Journal.