LEES CREEK – Even with a teammate open under the basket, Cody Hardesty decided to put the outcome of Tuesday’s McClain and East Clinton game in his hands.
After the Astros tied the game with 9.2 seconds left Hardesty, with no hesitation, buried a three-pointer from the right wing with 3.0 seconds remaining, giving the Tigers a 60-57 victory at East Clinton High School in South Central Ohio League boys basketball action.
East Clinton came out and pressured after Wyatt Floyd made two free throws to tie the game at 57 with 9.2 remaining.
“We wanted to get the ball up to half court,” McClain head coach Jesse Mitchell said. “If we have the chance to attack, we attack. If not, we call timeout and we draw something up. I knew when I said that they were going to attack regardless.”
McClain broke the press and got the ball to Hardesty on the right wing. With a teammate under the basket and an open lane to drive down, he settled on the three instead.
“I think we had an opportunity to shoot a much closer shot, but he pulled up for three,” Mitchell said. “Luckily, he made it so I didn’t have to yell at him.”
It wasn’t the first big shot Hardesty has made for the Tigers this season. At the end of the first of three overtimes against Jackson, he banked in a trey to send the game into double overtime.
“He’s kind of been our leader the last couple games,” Mitchell said. “I’m more proud of him being that leader than anything basketballwise. I’m just happy for him.”
East Clinton’s press had been very effective throughout the game, forcing 19 Tiger turnovers.
“I toyed with the idea of taking (the press) off and just playing solid defense,” EC head coach Tony Berlin said. “We turned them over 19 times.”
Berlin wasn’t sure what happened on the final press of the night that allowed the Tigers the open shot.
“I’ll have to look at the film to see, but he was wide open forever,” Berlin said. “I don’t know if it was a (bad) rotation or communication. It had to be one of those two that he could get that wide open. I was really surprised he took the three, but he sat there for five seconds wide open. That can’t happen at the end of the game.”
East Clinton nearly miraculously tied the game after Hardesty’s three.
Inbounding the ball with 3.0 seconds remaining, the Astros threw two passes into the front court. As the ball was bouncing away from Griffin Campbell, he grabbed it in the right corner, turned and fired all in one motion. The ball hit the back iron and bounced out.
From the sidelines, it appeared Campbell’s shot was going in.
“It looked pretty good, didn’t it?” Berlin said. “He played well. We’ve got a lot of players that are starting to step up.”
While East Clinton never led in the contest, the game’s margin fluctuated between two and eight points almost the entire way.
Matt Barton led the Tigers with 17 points. Jacob Starkey added 15 points. Hardesty finished with 13.
For the Astros, Wyatt Floyd led EC with 13 points. Brian Barnes added 12.
McClain 60, East Clinton 57
(60) McCLAIN (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Owen O’Connor 1-0-2-4, Jacob Starkey 7-0-1-15, Matt Barton 5-3-4-17, Randall Mischal 3-1-0-7, Cole Hardesty 4-2-3-13, Landree Gray 2-0-0-4. TOTALS 22-6-10-60.
(57) EAST CLINTON (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Griffin Campbell 3-1-0-7, JT McCarren 4-0-1-9, Jonny Blair 2-0-2-6, Brian Barnes 5-1-1-12, Wyatt Floyd 2-1-8-13, Paul Luttrell 3-0-0-6, DJ Luttrell 2-0-0-4. TOTALS 21-3-12-57.
FIELD GOALS: M 22/42 (Starkey 7/10, Barton 5/8, Hardesty 4/9); E 21/54 (Barnes 5/9, McCarren 4/9)
3 POINT FIELD GOALS: M 6/14 (Barton 3/5, Hardesty 2/5); E 3/10
FREE THROWS: M 10/14 (Barton 4/5, Hardesty 3/4); E 12/16 (Floyd 8/9)
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