The McClain Tigers clinched at least a share of the Frontier Athletic Conference title with a 63-39 victory Friday at Miami Trace.
It was a one-possession game in favor of McClain, 36-33, with 1:35 to play in the third quarter.
The Tigers saved their best for last, both offensively and defensively. In the fourth quarter they pulled away for a 69-39 victory.
McClain outscored Miami Trace 25-5 in the fourth quarter.
The Tigers are indeed FAC champs, currently with a record of 7-1 in the FAC with games remaining in the conference against Hillsboro and Chillicothe.
McClain was led by senior Bryson Badgley with 26 points. He hit five of McClain’s nine three-point field goals.
Tiger senior Kendyll Toney had 21 points. Senior Braden Wright scored eight for the Tigers and senior Seth Wise scored seven.
Miami Trace was led by junior Andrew Guthrie and sophomore Austin Boedeker, each scoring 10 points.
There were two early lead changes in the game as McClain took a 13-5 lead. A three by senior Hayden Hunter made it 13-8, McClain, after one quarter.
Miami Trace had its best offensive output in the second quarter, with 15 points to 11 for the Tigers. McClain led at one juncture, 17-10, before the Panthers went on a 7-0 run to tie the game at the 4:12 mark of the first half.
The Panthers led 23-19 with about two minutes to play in the half. McClain hit a three and made two free throws to go in front, 24-23, by the halftime buzzer.
The Tigers began the third quarter with an 8-0 run to increase their lead to 32-23. Miami Trace twice cut the lead to four and then three, 36-33, after Boedeker’s three-pointer at the 1:35 mark.
The Tigers (11-2 overall) led 44-34 heading into the fourth quarter.
“The game always comes back to reality and the reality was that we knew all the markings were there that this one was going to be really, really tough to get,” McClain coach Joe B. Stewart said. “To come up here and their floor, they played well. They’re feeling good about themselves. They have a lot of sophomores and (Andrew) Guthrie, who is obviously a load.”
Stewart spoke about the first half.
“It was a wake-up call for us,” Stewart said. “They had a great crowd behind them. We had a great crowd that was just waiting on us. In the second half, it was a much different story. We guarded again. I think they scored 15 points (it was 16) in the second half. Our defense set the tone.
“In the second half, our guys found themselves. They didn’t need the speech they got, but they got it. It’s a senior-laden group. We have some good leadership on the floor. It was just obviously a much different second half.”
Stewart’s emotions came through as he spoke about his team.
“I just couldn’t be happier for this group of kids,” Stewart said. “We try to be about the process. We’re working every single day to be better; to deserve good things to happen. To bring a championship season back to McClain, back to the purple and gold, it’s beyond that.”
Miami Trace coach Ben Ackely said, “Our kids played extremely hard.” “(Kendyll) Toney and (Bryson) Badgley were huge. They both carried (McClain) when they needed to make shots. I thought Badgley made a couple of incredibly tough shots there in the third quarter.
“I’m happy with our kids, I’m happy with our growth. With 1:38 to play in the third quarter, I believe it was a two-possession game. Then the wheels kind of fell off. I thought our young kids got tired. The physicality of the game. (McClain) has five seniors on the floor and there were times tonight when we had five sophomores on the floor. No excuses, but it’s a growing process. I thought our kids grew tonight and that’s what we’re looking for; every game, to get a little bit better. We’re definitely a different basketball team in late January than we were back in November. We just want to hang tight in games and give ourselves a chance.”
The Panthers fell to 6-12 overall.
In other FAC games Friday, Chillicothe defeated Washington, 65-56, and Jackson beat Hillsboro, 40-30.
The FAC standings through Friday’s games: McClain, 7-1, Chillicothe, 4-3, Jackson, 4-4, Washington, 3-5, Hillsboro, 3-5 and Miami Trace, 3-6.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
MT 8 15 11 5 — 39
Mc 13 11 20 25 — 69
MIAMI TRACE — Shay Salyers 0-0-0; Hayden Hunter 0 (1)-0-3; Eli Fliehman 0 (1)-4-7; Braeden Morris 0-0-0; Garrett Guess 1-1-3; Brady Armstrong 0-0-0; Zach Warnock 0-0-0; Bryson Osborne 0 (1)-0-3; Austin Boedeker 3 (1)-1-10; Bryson Sheets 0 (1)-0-3; Andrew Guthrie 4-2-10. TOTALS — 8 (5)-8-39. Free throw shooting: 8 of 16 for 50 percent. Three-point field goals: Hunter, Fliehman, Osborne, Boedeker, Sheets. Field goal shooting: 13 of 35 for 37 percent. Turnovers: 10.
McCLAIN — Preston Saunders 0-0-0; Bryson Badgley 5 (5)-4-26; Isaac Carroll 0 (1)-0-3; Evann Mischal 0 (1)-0-3; Gavin Warren 0-0-0; Seth Wise 2 (1)-0-7; Braden Wright 3-2-8; Kendyll Toney 7 (1)-4-21; Wesley Potts 0-1-1; Andrew Potts 0-0-0. TOTALS — 14 (9)-11-69. Free throw shooting: 11 of 15 for 73 percent. Three-point field goals: Badgley, 5; Carroll, Mischal, Wise, Toney. Field goal shooting: 23 of 46 for 50 percent. Turnovers: 10.
Chris Hoppes is the sports editor for the Record-Herald in Washington C.H.