CLARKSVILLE — Coffee is for closers and McClain was doing the brewing Tuesday night.
The visiting Tigers made all the clutch plays down the stretch and also took advantage at the free throw line en route to a 60-52 victory over Clinton-Massie in South Central Ohio League boys basketball action at the CMHS gym.
Two Bailey LeForge free throws with 3:34 left knotted the game at 48, but CM’s momentum stopped there as McClain closed with a 12-4 spurt to grab the road win.
Mat Barton buried back-to-back threes and Randall Mischal scored six points in the final frame to ice the win for the Tigers.
“They really shot the ball well there at the end of the game and on the other end, we missed a couple bunnies,” Clinton-Massie head coach Dustin Eads said. “Something that simple can be the difference in the game.”
Clinton-Massie came out of the gates sluggish, the exception being Nick Chowning. Chowning was the only Falcon to make a basket in the opening quarter as the junior guard buried 3-of-4 from 3-point range to keep CM within 10-8 after one quarter.
Chowning opened the second quarter with another bomb and it took until the 6:15 mark of the frame for another Falcon to make a field goal. A Trey Uetrecht bucket capped a mini Falcon spurt and the home team grabbed a 16-11 lead halfway through the second.
That’s when Jacob Starkey began to make his impact for McClain. The junior forward used his outstanding leaping ability to clean the offensive glass for the Tigers and made 5-of-5 buckets for 10 points in the quarter. After trailing by five, McClain closed the first half on a 16-7 run to take a 27-23 halftime advantage.
Starkey had a monster night, although most of his damage came in the first half, as he finished with 15 points and 16 rebounds.
“We really struggled to keep them [McClain] off the offensive glass and that hurt us,” Eads said. “I think in the first half we gave up seven offensive rebounds and they scored on all seven of them. That can’t happen.”
A back-and-forth third quarter saw CM slightly cut into the deficit and a Uetrecht bucket tied the score at 34. With McClain up a point and 1.5 seconds left in the quarter, the Tigers in-bounded in the back court and Cody Hardesty banked home a 3/4 court bomb at the buzzer.
“That shot at the end of the third is just one of those things that happens in basketball,” Eads said. “We had a guy on him, not too close because we don’t want to foul, but he just made a great shot. You have to give him credit.”
Both teams made trips to the free throw line a frequent occasion in the fourth quarter, but McClain took advantage the most. The Tigers hit on 12-of-17 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter (17-of-26 in the game), while CM was 7-of-12 in the fourth quarter (8-of-15 in the game).
Clinton-Massie’s Chowning led all scorers with 16 points on 4-of-6 from 3-point range. Uetrecht chipped in with a solid 11-point, 9-rebound performance, while LeForge finished with 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting. Ryan Weiss had four points and four boards for the Falcons.
On McClain’s side, four players reached double figures paced by 15 apiece from Starkey and Barton. Barton nailed 3-of-4 from deep in the second half. Mischal and Hardesty both scored 10 points apiece, while Owen O’Connor had five.
Clinton-Massie will now enjoy a little time off before taking the court again on Dec. 11.
“This will give us a little time to get caught up from some of the time we missed earlier in the season,” Eads said.
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