MOWRYSTOWN – After watching a double-digit lead shrink to five points in the third quarter Saturday night, East Clinton stepped up the aggression to pull away for a 72-59 win over Whiteoak.
“Defensively, we gave up too many points,” EC assistant coach Roger Earley said. “Offensively we scored what we would like to score. We had people off the bench that really contributed big.
“It was a great team effort. This makes two in a row, and hopefully, this is the beginning of something good to come when we get to the tournament.”
The Astros led 39-34 with 4:30 left in the third thanks to a 6-0 Whiteoak run. That’s when East Clinton started taking the ball hard to the basket.
Jonny Blair got the Astro run started with three straight baskets to increase EC’s lead to 45-34.
Then came the barrage of three-point play opportunities.
Starting with JT McCarren’s three-point play in the final minute of the third quarter, East Clinton earned four such opportunities over the next 2:10.
Wyatt Floyd gave East Clinton a 50-42 lead with 6:54 left in the fourth with a basket while being fouled. He missed the free throw, but McCarren got the offensive rebound and was fouled.
His two free throws gave EC a 52-42 lead. Then, Josh Moskel converted on a three-point play with 6:15 left to expand the EC lead to 55-42.
Just 14 seconds later, Austin Mercer got into the act, completing his own three-point play to give EC a 58-43 advantage. Whiteoak got no closer than 12 points the rest of the game.
“Our kids are starting to catch on to what Coach Berlin has brought, and it takes time,” Earley said. “They’re starting to do the little things.”
Four different Astros scored in double figures. McCarren and Mercer led the way with 17 points each. Floyd finished with 13 points while Blair finished with 12.
Brandon Ashbaugh led the Wildcats with 18 points.
The Astros (7-12) were decked out in neon green socks while the coaching staff wore green ribbons, all for Head Coach Tony Berlin. Berlin is away from the team dealing with an illness.
Earley said the team found a way to win using Berlin’s style of play.
“It’s part of the coaching process that Coach Berlin and I brought to East Clinton,” Earley said. “It takes a while to teach, and they’re catching on in the last two games. The kids have been really disciplined on the floor.”
Feb. 6, 2016
@Whiteoak High School
East Clinton 72, Whiteoak 59
(72) EAST CLINTON (fg-3fg-ft-tp) JT McCarren 7-0-3-17, Jonny Blair 5-0-2-12, Austin Mercer 8-0-1-17, Josh Moskel 1-0-1-3, Brian Barnes 1-0-5-7, Wyatt Floyd 4-0-5-13, Paul Luttrell 0-0-2-2, DJ Luttrell 0-0-1-1. TOTALS 26-0-20-72.
(59) WHITEOAK (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Shawn Wissel 0-0-1-1, Kyle Marler 4-0-3-11, Jacob Burns 3-1-5-12, Cody McClure 1-0-1-3, Chase Carraher 3-0-1-7, Trevor Martin 2-0-0-4, Brandon Ashbaugh 7-0-4-18, Trever Yeager 0-0-3-3. TOTALS 20-1-18-59.
Matt covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @mattsports.