Girls Basketball: Clayton 53, West Johnston 49

Jenna Harris leads Clayton girls to big Senior Night win over West Johnston

CorrespondentFebruary 21, 2014 

— Jenna Harris had a Senior Night to remember. And one that was very important for the Clayton girls basketball team.

Harris scored a game-high 20 points, hitting four 3-pointers, to lead the Comets to a 53-49 victory over a scrappy West Johnston team Monday night.

“My teammates did a good job of getting the ball to me once I got hot,” said Harris, one of five seniors recognized as they played their final home regular-season game. “Give the credit to them.

“Fortunately, I got hot early. It’s my last home game here. It was a fun way to go out but it was definitely a team win.”

Turning Point: The Comets (16-7, 8-5 Greater Neuse River 4A) went on an 8-0 run to begin the final period, expanding a 44-39 lead to 52-39. Clayton was still up 53-41 with 1:02 left after a free throw by Harris before West Johnston (9-10, 3-10) made a late run against the Comets’ reserves.

Highlight Reel: Harris hit 3-pointers on three of four Clayton possessions during the second period, helping Clayton regain some of its poise after West Johnston had rallied from a 16-2 deficit to tie the score 18-18 at the end of the first period.

Unsung Heroes: Both coaches pointed to freshmen players.

Clayton coach Marlon Lee praised Maya Williams, who went into the game late and got some big rebounds. “She went in there and got some hustle plays,” Lee said. “If a freshman can do it, everybody can do it.”

West Johnston coach Bill Pepicello brought up Tehya Lee from the junior varsity team and she responded with 14 points.

“She has a great game for us,” he said. “She now understands what it is like to go to the varsity level and that is where she will be next year.”

Putting up numbers: In addition to Harris’ 20 points, Clayton got 15 from Amber Caudle. Leading scorer Taisha Murphy was held to eight.

West Johnston got 19 points from Jarmeia Holder and 14 from Lee.

What Worked: For Clayton, the little things were key, Lee said. “When we needed a stop, we got it. Jenna came out and shot well. It was just the things that we do well when we are playing well.”

West Johnston’s Pepicello said that the Wildcats did a good job on Taisha Murphy, using a box-and-one for much of the night to keep her from getting good looks at the basket. “She is one of the best players around. Give his other girls credit. They stepped up and made shots when they had to.”

What Didn’t Work: Clayton had too many unforced turnovers, Lee said, and gave up too many second shots to the Wildcats.

Turnovers were also a problem for West Johnston.

Going Forward: Clayton, fourth in the conference, is still hopeful of getting a playoff berth.

Best Quote: “One of the things I told my seniors was that with this win against West Johnston, they were unblemished against Johnston County teams for four years,” Clayton coach Lee said. “That is one of our No. 1 goals coming in, is that we wanted to reign supreme in the county.”

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