WILLIAMSBURG — A torrid shooting performance — especially from guard Branson Smith — propelled the East Clinton Astros to a third straight victory Tuesday night, as they defeated Williamsburg 53-39 in SBAAC National Division action.
“We’re playing good,” EC coach Phil Shori said. “We haven’t hit our stride yet but we keep working hard every day.”
East Clinton is 5-3 overall and 3-2 in the National Division. The Astros won just three games the previous two seasons combined.
“This community is kind of looking for something to hold on to,” Shori said of the tradition-rich East Clinton school district. “I don’t think our kids realize the magnitude of what they are doing.
“But five wins, what does five wins mean? We’re 5-3. We can’t be satisfied with five wins. I didn’t come here to be 5-3. I came here to win with these kids.”
Smith scored a game-high 24 points, pulled down seven rebounds and had four steals. He made 9 of 10 shots from the floor, including both of his three-point attempts.
As a team, the Astros shot 64.5 percent from the floor (20 of 31) and 7 of 11 from three-point range.
“We executed well, making the right pass to get the right shot,” said Shori. “We may have shot it only 31 times but I’d say 25 of those were picture perfect. We had to spend time, obviously, putting in a new system. We’re starting to figure it out. We can get good shots, or we can get great shots.”
Conversely, Williamsburg was frigid from the outside. The Wildcats managed to make just 1 out of 26 three-point attempts, including missing their last 21 shots from beyond the arc.
“I think our guys did a nice job of forcing them to be shooters,” Shori said.
Despite facing a trapping defense, the Astros were patient and were rewarded with open shots throughout the game.
East Clinton led or was tied for all but the first 1:56 of the game. They trailed 2-0 until Dakota Collom hit a three with 6:04 left in the opening quarter. EC led for the final 27:31 of the game.
Williamsburg (3-5 overall, 1-3 SBC National) got as close as four points in the third, 35-31, with 1:11 left in the period.
Smith would score the next six points to push the Astro advantage back to double digits. Collom scored the next eight Astro points, expanding the EC lead to 50-35 with 2:55 left.
Collom added 15 points and five rebounds.
Collin Klopfstein led the Wildcats with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Dan Jones had 11 points but was just 1 of 9 from beyond the arc.
Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021
@Williamsburg High School
East Clinton 53, Williamsburg 39
(53) EAST CLINTON (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Branson Smith 9-2-4-24, Dakota Collom 5-3-2-15, Jared Smith 1-0-0-2, Landon Runyon 2-2-0-6, Quinten Tolle 2-2-0-6. TOTALS 20-7-6-53.
(39) WILLIAMSBURG (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Dan Jones 5-1-0-11, Kaidon Whisman 1-0-0-2, Eli Jones 1-0-0-2, Zach Earley 1-0-0-2, Jace Canter 2-0-0-4, Chris Selm 1-0-0-2, Collin Klopfstein 7-0-2-16. TOTALS 18-1-2-39.
FIELD GOALS: EC 20/31 (B. Smith 9/10, Collom 5/11); W 18/54 (Klopfstein 7/11, D. Jones 5/15)
3 POINT FIELD GOALS: EC 7/11 (Collom 3/7, B. Smith 2/2, Runyon 2/2); W 1/26
FREE THROWS: EC 6/17; W 2/2
REBOUNDS: EC 26 (B. Smith 7, Tolle 6, Collom 5); W 26 (Klopfstein 11)
ASSISTS: EC 11 (Tolle 5); W 4
STEALS: EC 8 (B. Smith 4); W 6
BLOCKED SHOTS: EC 1; W 2
TURNOVERS: EC 15; W 11
Matt Sexton covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @MattSextonPxP.