CLAYTON — Clayton finished off the first portion of its boys basketball schedule with another impressive win Wednesday night. The Comets downed Cleveland 68-30 in a game very similar to some of its previous non-conference encounters.
Clayton thrived on its trapping pressure defense, that defense’s tendency to create fast breaks and solid ball movement on offense to improve to 6-0 with a tough Greater Neuse River 4A Conference starting slate just ahead.
The Comets, whose average margin of victory in their perfect start is more than 27 points, will meet Southeast Raleigh, Garner and Harnett Central before the holiday break. Clayton also has a rematch with Wilson Hunt, the team that gave Clayton its tightest battle so far this season – a two-point win on Nov. 26.
Veteran coach Denny Medlin set simple goals for his team against Cleveland (1-6), which opens Eastern Carolina 3A Conference play on Tuesday against Eastern Wayne.
“We just wanted to play hard and together and execute our press,” Medlin said. “I feel like we did those things.”
Clayton started to pull away with a 13-0 run to finish the first quarter. Early offensive rebounding success kept the Rams close with Bobby Stenburg scoring on a pair of follow ups and Kodi Whitley dropping in a quick pass down low from Jesse Olmstead to keep Cleveland within 8-6 early.
A trio of assists by Devon Terry started Clayton’s scoring run. He fed Anthony Gaskins for a layup after the first, then set up back-to-back dunks by Gary Clark. The first was a lob and the second after great ball work between Terry and Gaskins.
Dawson Medlin added a 3-pointer to push the lead to 17-6.
Dawson Medlin (14 points) joined Gaskins (16) and Clark (15) in double figures on the night.
Four 3-pointers accounted for most of Medlin’s scoring. Two of those came in the second quarter, including one at the halftime buzzer for a 34-14 advantage.
“The guys moved the ball well and found the open man,” Medlin said. “Dawson was the guy who ended up open a lot tonight and he hit some shots against their zone. That guy might be somebody different every night.”
Stenborg paced Cleveland with eight points, while Alex Raines drilled two 3-pointers in the second half to total six.
Both teams will turn their attention to those crucial league games this week which determine playoff fates.
“I feel like we’ve done what we’re supposed to do to get here with conference play starting and Southeast Raleigh coming in for a big game,” Medlin said. “We’ve kept our foot to the pedal and played good basketball. We know conference play is intense and difficult.”