Hugs and tears filled the Clayton locker room Friday night after the Comets’ 79-75 loss to Apex in a 4A boys basketball eastern regional semifinal. That’s usually the case for most teams that make it this far in the playoffs where the thrill of victory multiplies every round but so does the agony that comes along with a defeat.
The Comets’ basketball program says goodbye to a senior class , which includes the best player to ever wear the Comet blue and white — University of Cincinnati recruit Gary Clark — and a group of a half-dozen seniors most of whom have played together for years under the close eye of their high school head coach Denny Medlin, whose son, Dawson, made up the Clayton boys basketball class of 2014 along with Jake Turner, Chris Dixon, Preston Suggs, Austin Wolf and Clark.
“It just stings for it to be over,” Coach Medlin said. “This is a great group of kids that I love to death. I’ve got a special connection with them because they’re my son’s friends and I’ve watched them grow up playing together all of these years.
“For it to come to an end, it’s tough.”
Clark finishes his career with a brilliant senior season where he scored 698 points, adding to his school-record total for points scored and likely rebounding.
“Gary’s legacy is so much more than conference or sectional championships, which is a great legacy by itself and something to be proud of,” Coach Medlin said. “The bond Gary developed with our community and our community with him was special. He’s always going to be a big part of Clayton basketball no matter what he goes onto do from here in basketball. The community loves him and we love him.”
As a group, the class of 2014 helped the Comets go 79-20 over the past four seasons, winning 19 or more games every season and 20 or more for three straight seasons.
They collected two conference championships and two sectional championships in the past two seasons.
“This loss won’t define this senior class,” Coach Medlin said. “Because they’ve accomplished so much.”
Ryder Cup-style event coming to CC of JC: The inaugural Johnston-Harnett Lancaster Cup will be held April 5-6 at the Country Club of Johnston County. The Ryder Cup-style event will feature 12-player teams from Johnston and Harnett counties battling for the Cup, named after Smithfield resident Neal Lancaster, in best ball, alternate shot and singles play.
A qualifier will be held on March 15 at the Country Club of Johnston County to determine the Johnston County team. CC of JC pro Chris McDonald will conduct the qualifier and captain the team.
Fans are invited to attend the event, which will feature 36 holes of golf daily.
“These matches are intended to help grow the game of golf within the area and give the players an opportunity to compete at a higher level,” said event organizer and Harnett County team captain Tony Parrish. “My hope is all the players will take pride in representing their respective county and unite the two through the game of golf.”
Local All-Metro selections: Four Johnston County wrestlers were named to the News & Observer’s All-Metro team teams for the 2013-14 season. Darius Dunn of Corinth Holders, Jhavonte Moon of Cleveland, Sam Campbell of West Johnston and Tony Jimenez of West Johnston were honored in wrestling.
Corinth Holders junior Michaela Carter was named to the All-Metro swim team. She won the state championship in the 50-yard freestyle this season.
Check out the full All-Metro wrestling lists at newsobserver.com/preps.
Best: 919-524-8895 or firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @dclaybest