By Les Dixon
RUPP ARENA – Clay County’s run came to an end Thursday, as a shooting drought during the second and third quarters led to the Tigers' 68-54 loss to Knott County Central.
Robert Marcum’s squad held a 17-9 lead at the end of the first quarter before seeing the Patriots outscore Clay County, 36-13, during the two-quarter span.
The Tigers also didn’t have an answer for Knott County Central’s Cameron Justice, who scored 13 of his 29 points during the fourth quarter. He finished the game connecting on seven-of-13 shot attempts and 13-of-15 from the free-throw line.
“I’m very proud of this team,” Marcum said. “I give Knott Central credit. They’ve got an outstanding team. The biggest key is that we quit attacking the rim.”
Tyler McDaniel led Clay County with a 21-point effort while Jarrod Rice followed with 12 points in the loss.
Clay County didn’t show any case of the nerves to open the game. The Tigers jumped out to a 5-0 lead before Knott County Central scored its first goal with 5:12 left in the opening quarter. Three-pointers by Kody Reed and Tyler McDaniel gave Clay County a 13-8 lead and McDaniel scored four points to end the quarter that pushed the Tigers’ advantage to 17-9. McDaniel scored nine points during the quarter.
Things went downhill for Marcum’s squad in the second quarter. Clay County misfired on 0-of-seven three-point attempts while Knott Central’s Corey Short hit three three-pointers that highlighted a 20-4 run for the Patriots during the period. Justice scored five points during the eight-minute span, as Knott Central took a 31-23 into the locker room at halftime.
The Tigers connected on eight-of-28 shot attempts during the first half, including a three-of-16 effort from three-point range. The Patriots outrebounded Clay County 24-13 during the first two quarters.
Clay County’s shooting woes continued during the third quarter, which allowed Knott Central to pull away. The Tigers shot only three-of-11 in the period, as the Patriots raced out to a comfortable 45-30 edge going into the fourth quarter. Justice added six points and a three-pointer during the period.
Marcum’s squad tried to rally in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t get any closer than nine points. Justice 13 points during the quarter while knocking down 11-of-11 from the free-throw line.
96TH Annual Boys Sweet Sixteen
at Rupp Arena
Knott Central 68, Clay County 54
Clay County 17 6 7 24 54
Knott County Central 9 2 14 23 68
Clay County (54) – Lyttle 3, Bowling 3, Reed 10, McDaniel 21, Rice 12, Wolfe 3, Smith 2.
Knott County Central (68) – Christon 12, Cornett 10, Hall 6, Justice 29, Short 11.