John Stepp For The Times Tribune
CORBIN — For the third straight year, the Clay County Tigers are playing for the 13th Region Championship and the opportunity to play in the Sweet Sixteen at Rupp Arena, after their 79-58 victory over the Williamsburg Yellow Jackets on Saturday.
The Tigers won the title last year with an 84-76 win over the Harlan County Black Bears, after losing to North Laurel the year before. This season they will defend their championship against the Corbin Redhounds, who beat Bell County in the other semi-finals game.
It was a disappointing ending to what has been a magical run for the Jackets. Williamsburg made their first trip to the regional tournament since 1998 and won their first tournament game since 1987. Coach Patrick Robinson knew it would be difficult to continue their run against Clay County, but is proud of what his team was able to accomplish this season.
“We're proud of this team. We're proud of our seniors, Dalton (Sizemore) and Hunter (Sulfridge),” said Robinson. “We had a good team and to make it this far and play for a chance to get to the finals, it was a great opportunity for us.”
The Tigers have been near the top of the 13th Region rankings all season, due in large part to their ability to score from every position on the court. Clay County had all five starters in double figures in the game, led by sophomore guard Wes Wolfe who finished with 20 points. Fellow sophomores Trey Farmer and Blake Smith added 16 and 14 points, respectively. Big man Jake Allen finished with 12, while point guard Tyler McDaniel added 11.
“They have a good team that can score a lot of points. We probably tried 10 different defenses and couldn't stop them,” said Robinson. “They can drive. They can shoot the basketball. They are just a really hard ball club to defend.”
To start the game, it looked like Williamsburg was ready to run with the Tigers. The score was tied at 10-10 and a jumper by Farmer gave Clay County a 12-10 lead with 3:24 left in the quarter.
Wolfe scored 13 points in the quarter and his last basket put the Tigers ahead 23-14, with :39 left in the quarter.
Clay County never looked back. The Tigers scored the first 10 points of the second quarter, taking a 33-17 lead. Williamsburg finally got their first basket, 4:03 into the period, but were outscored 22-8, falling behind 45-25 heading into the half.
The Tigers continued to dominate in the second half. They led 62-38 after the third quarter and were up by as many as 29 (71-42) in the fourth.
“The crazy thing is, I didn't really feel like we played that bad. It's just that Clay County is such a good team,” said Robinson. “They are so athletic and it's just hard to get around them. They are a good ball club.”
For Clay County, they will take on the Corbin Redhouds in the finals on Monday night. The Tigers defeated Corbin 69-62 back in December.
“That will be a real tough matchup for us,” said Clay County coach Robert Marcum. “They are a guard-oriented team and we have some size, so we're going to have to figure out how to guard them. It should be a good game.”
13th Region Tournament
at The Corbin Arena
Clay County 79, Williamsburg 58
Williamsburg 23 22 17 17 - 58
Clay County 17 8 13 20 - 79
Williamsburg (58) – A. Griffith 14, S. Griffith 14, Sizemore 13, Shelton 12, Sulfridge 3, Lowrie 2
Clay County (79) – Wolfe 20, Farmer 16, Smith 14, Allen 12, McDaniel 11, House 6
John Stepp For The Times Tribune
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