WENDELL — Clayton exploited the East Wake boys’ lack of rhythm and built a first-half lead the Warriors would never overcome on its way to a 72-50 win on Tuesday.
Comet big man Gary Clark took the most advantage of the situation early in the game. His 22 points in the first half outscored the entire East Wake team by six and helped his team to a 43-16 lead at the break.
“He scores a lot of points and that’s one of his roles on this team,” Clayton coach Denny Medlin said. “Obviously, that’s why people are offering him scholarships – because he can put the ball in the goal and he’s 6-foot-7.”
Clayton (13-1, 4-0 Greater Neuse River 4A) jumped to a 16-8 lead after one quarter before Clark and fellow Comets Demage Bailey and Anthony Gaskins hit the gas in the second.
“We went away from our game plan of trying to pound the ball in and hit the boards,” East Wake coach Darrin Stinson said. “We went away from that and started shooting quick shots, and (Clayton) started getting good run-outs. Our guards went asleep at the top and they got some quick baskets.”
The Comet trio combined for 27 points in a second frame highlighted by a pair of Clark dunks, one an intentional feed off the glass by Gaskins. Helping Clayton’s offensive production, East Wake turned the ball over eight times in the first half.
“We’ve just got some young guys right now and need to work on discipline, but we’re going to press on,” Stinson said.
The Warriors (2-11, 0-4) outscored the Comets in each of the final two periods, but only produced a small dent in the deficit as Clayton led 55-32 after the third quarter and went on to win by double digits.
“When you go into halftime with a 27-point lead, you can talk all you want about playing hard and staying focused, but East Wake came out with a little more energy and beat us to loose balls in the second half,” Medlin said. “But we shot the ball really well in the first half.
“Defensively, we had a lot of energy and it was probably one of our better halves, fundamentally.”
Clark finished the game with 30 points. Gaskins added 16, and Bailey and Chris Dixon each tallied nine points for Clayton.
After being held to two points in the first half, Quincy Jackson finished with a team-high 21 points for the Warriors.