HILLSBORO – The East Clinton boys’ basketball team dropped its 2017-18 season-opening game, 73-66, to Highland County rival Leesburg Fairfield Saturday afternoon.
The contest was one of eight games played at Southern State College’s Patriot Center Saturday as part of the Ohio Valley Hoops Classic.
The Lions improve to 2-0 on the season, as they posted a victory the previous night against Manchester.
Astros’ head coach Tony Berlin pointed to one key reason why his team lost to the Lions – defense, or better put, the lack of defense.
“We can’t allow 73 points and expect to win, ” he noted. “If you look at our stats, we shot 57 percent from the field, 33 percent from beyond the three-point line, and 85 percent from the free throw line. You would have thought we had won, especially scoring 66 points. Our defensive effort has to improve.”
In a losing cause, East Clinton’s Wyatt Floyd led all scorers with 29 points. JT McCarren added 16 for EC.
“Wyatt had a real good game for us and got us going offensively,” Berlin said.
Floyd scored 19 of his points in the first half, but the Lions held a six-point margin at the break, 39-33. Fairfield led 21-18 at the first quarter break.
Buddlemeyer, who was selected as the game’s Most Outstanding Player, had 24 points to lead the Lions. He scored 10 in the opening period and 18 in the first half.
Fairfield had three other starters in double figures, as Cody Gragg added 13 points, Tucker Ayers followed with 12 and post-player James Bentley added 10 for the Lions.
“I’ve known coach (Josh) Howland for a long-time and the style of ball they play,” said Berlin. “We knew they would play the high-low type of game and feed it to the back door, but we just could not stop them.”
The Lions padded their lead with a 23-19 third quarter advantage to take a 62-52 lead into the final quarter.
East Clinton made a run, thanks to the efforts of McCarren and Floyd in the final period, and the Astros sliced the deficit to 62-58 with just over three minutes remaining. However, Buddlemeyer added a couple of buckets for the Lions and the margin was extended to seven, 67-60, and the Astros got no closer the rest of the way.
McCarren, who was saddled with three fouls in the first half, collected his fourth during the Astro comeback.
“When JT got his fourth foul, it really hurt our effort and unfortunately they (Fairfield) capitalized and put the game away,” said Berlin. “I’m glad our kids fought back and made that run, but we’ve got to do a better job of defending and executing our game plan.”
East Clinton will take on Clinton County rival Wilmington Friday night.
December 2, 2017
Ohio Valley Hoops Classic
@Southern State Community College
Fairfield 73 East Clinton 66
(73) FAIRFIELD (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Cragg 6-0-1-13, Setty 1-1-0-3, Buddlemeyer 10-0-4-24, Willey 2-1-2-7, Simmons 1-0-0-2, Ayres 4-0-4-12, Beatty 1-0-0-2, Bentley 4-0-2-10. TOTALS 29-2-13-73.
(66) East Clinton (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Jenkins 1-1-0-3, Smith 0-0-1-1, McCarren 5-0-6-16, Michael 1-1-0-3, Floyd 11-2-5-29, Neanover 2-0-0-4, Mitchell 1-1-2-5, Vadnais 1-0-0-2. TOTALS 22-5-17-66.
Bill Liermann covers college and high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @lierjet