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Clayton’s boys basketball team has wanted to use more varied lineups and offensive attacks through the first month of the season. The Comets (8-0) did that Tuesday night, overcoming a foul-saddled evening for star forward Gary Clark and a horrid shooting first half to down Wilson Hunt, 43-40, on the road.
The two teams shot a combined 9-for-55 from the field (16 percent) in the first half, add in more than both squads’ normal amount of turnovers and the 12-all tie at the halftime break was to be expected.
“That was a strange game,” said Clayton coach Denny Medlin. “It wasn’t the best looking example of basketball, but it was two traditionally good programs going at it. We battled through and got out of here with a win. A win at Hunt is a great win. The kids played hard.”
Anthony Gaskins hit four big 3-pointers for the Comets, two of those in the fourth quarter, and had a game-high 16 points.
Gaskins’ first 3 in the fourth pushed the lead to 30-21. His second of the frame upped the lead to 33-21 with 5:29 to play.
“We didn’t execute like we needed to in the first half,” Gaskins said. “We did more of that in the second half and started making some shots. We ran the offense and got back to running our plays.”
Clark played less than half of the first half, saddled with two fouls in the first quarter, then a third in the second.
“We had three team fouls and Gary had all three,” Medlin said. “We perservered through that and got some other guys involved.”
That’s where Clayton picked up crucial productive minutes from Demage Bailey. Bailey scored just three points but totaled seven rebounds, a pair of assists and blocked shots.
The Comets used Bailey and Clark together for much of the second half.
“We put Gary on the perimeter and had Demage inside and that gave Gary some chances to get to the goal and create,” Medlin said. “Gaskins hit some big 3s and those are ever bigger in a low-scoring game like this.”
Clark did have a couple of highlight reel plays as usual.
The first a driving dunk over 6-foot-9 Hunt center Daniel Westbrook for a three-point play in the third quarter, then a driving dunk from the baseline between Westbrook and 6-8 Travon Davis for a 41-33 lead with 1:15 to play.
Clark had all 11 of his points in the second half.
Quan Kent did his best to keep Hunt close in the second half, with eight fourth-quarter points. Keenon Taybron pitched in seven fourth-quarter points.
Clayton’s lead was 41-33 after Clark’s third dunk of the night (on a breakaway after a steal) with 1:15 to play, and then 43-35 with 46 seconds left, but Hunt scored the game’s final five points to close the gap to three points.
Hunt’s last basket – a Taybron 3-pointer – came with five seconds to play. With the Warriors out of timeouts, Clayton did not have to inbound the ball and the clock ran out.
The 43 points scored is a season-low for Clayton. Hunt’s 40 was the second lowest total by a Clayton opponent this season. The Warriors scored a season-high 64 on Clayton in their first meeting of this season.