With a roster that’s back to 100 percent and showing signs of one cohesive unit, Clinton Central’s varsity boys basketball teams proves to be hitting their stride at just the right moment.
No example proves to be more apparent than on Friday when the Bulldogs traveled to Frontier and notched three scorers in double figures while their offense drove them to a 72-69 victory.
There is a myriad of reasons why Central has found a different gear on offense but for head coach Derek Davis, the main reason lies within his team’s newfound confidence.
“When we put the ball in the basket and we’re confident, we can shoot with the best of them,” Davis said. “Down the stretch here, we’re being more aggressive. We’re getting turnovers which is leading to baskets on the other end. We’re just pushing the pace.”
Back-to-back buckets by Lane Davis got the ball rolling for Clinton Central to start as they took a 10-point lead coming out of the first quarter.
For the next two quarters, it was all Troy Smith as he scored 18 of his team high 23 points in the second and third quarters combined including four of seven from distance while finishing the game shooting 62 percent from the field.
While the Bulldogs have a bevy of players that they can rely on in terms of putting points on the board, Davis believes that his team starts and stops with the fight and tone that is set by Troy Smith.
“He’s (Troy Smith) been the most consistent guy. Luke (Davison), skillfully, is probably our best overall player but Troy (Smith) is the one that makes this team run and I think he’s finally starting to realize that with his effort, he can flat out beat anybody he wants to. Doesn’t matter his size, he’s just very intelligent, very physical and knows what he can do and does it well,” Davis said.
Davison finished with 13 points while Lane Davis notched 18 in the win.
Smith’s reign continued in the third when he came out of the second half with a three before putting together back-to-back three-point plays minutes later as Central’s lead grew.
Frontier made a run in the fourth, coming into the final eight minutes of play with 10 unanswered points before the Bulldogs reclaimed momentum, hitting free throws down the stretch to cut short a Falcons come from behind win.
With wins against Elwood on February 21 followed by Friday’s victory over the Falcons, the Bulldogs are trending in the right direction as they go into sectional play with a first-round rematch against Faith Christian.
“Getting two wins in a row is huge for us. Especially with the draw we got, we liked our draw. We get to play Faith Christian which we didn’t win against, but we competed. Rossville again if we win against FC and hopefully play in Saturday’s championship game,” he said.
Central dropped their first bout against the Eagles on the road on February 10 with a 78-62 final.
BULLDOGS 72, FALCONS 69
Frontier – 18 12-27 69
Clinton Central – Creed Mennen 2 0-1 4, Adair 2 3-4 9, Smith 8 3-4 23, Davis 7 0-0 18, Davison 3 4-6 13, Taulbee 2 1-3 5. 24 11-20 72.
Frontier 15 16 11 27 — 69
Clinton Central 24 17 20 11 — 72
3 point goals – Frontier (2), Clinton Central (Adair 2, Smith 4, Davis 4, Davison 3). Total fouls – Frontier 20, Clinton Central 20.