CLAYTON — Jasmine Dixon enjoyed a senior night to remember, scoring a game-high 15 points to lead Clayton’s girls basketball team to a 49-25 victory over West Johnston on Tuesday night.
The Comets turned up the defensive pressure in the second half and pushed a 21-16 hafltime lead to 31-21 after three quarters and won going away.
“Once we got our half-court trap going, we were moving the ball, sharing the ball,” Clayton coach Marlon Lee said. “I think that kind of wore (West Johnston) down a little bit. That’s the name of the game.”
Dixon started the third-quarter surge by scoring on an offensive rebound, doing the little things that have been her trademark this season.
“She’s our senior leader,” Lee said. “She gets rebounds, plays good defense, does the little things.”
Turning point: The third quarter, when the Comets doubled their five-point halftime lead to 10 points. That set up a fourth quarter in which they outscored the Wildcats 18-4 to turn the game into a rout.
Highlight reel: A 3-pointer by Abby Duncan, a reserve senior who came in late in the game and drew the biggest cheer of the night when she swished a 3 from the left corner with 1:40 left in the game.
Unsung hero: Clayton Guard Tajah Clark, who lost a contact lens late in the third quarter. After a search of the court in which it was not found, Clark came out of the game momentarily but returned to run the Comets’ offense flawlessly the rest of they way.
Putting up numbers: Jasmine Dixon split her game-high 15 points between the first half (7) and the second half (8). Jenna Harris added 10 points for the Comets, sinking a pair of 3-pointers. Clayton center Vanessa Pitts finished with nine points, and also worked hard under the boards. West Johnston got 12 points from Avette Smith, including 10 in the first half. Jarmeia Holder (7) scored all five of West Johnston’s third-quarter points.
What worked: For Clayton, the trapping defense in the second half helped the Comets hit their stride. The Comets also did a good job of rebounding on both the offensive and defensive boards and pushed the ball up the floor after grabbing a defensive rebound.
West Johnston coach Bill Pepicello said his team did a good job of running their sets, particularly in the first half. And they battled the taller Comets hard on the boards all night.
What didn’t work: Clayton coach Marlon Lee lamented the Comets’ unforced errors. That contributed in part to a slow start. But that stat improved in the second half, when Clayton had just six turnovers.
West Johnston took plenty of shots, but not enough went in. “We had 25 shots up at halftime and try to get 50 a night,” Pepicello said. “They just didn’t go down tonight.”
Feeling the impact: Clayton stayed in the middle of the pack in the conference with a game left at Knightdale, a team it could face in the first round of the conference tournament. They are likely to finish in the fourth and fifth spots in the league, Lee said.
Quote of the day: “It a good win,” Clayton coach Lee said. “We’ll get ready for the conference. Once the tournament starts, anything goes.”