Dec 27, 2013
The Clayton Comets bounced back from a first-round loss in the HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational's Shavlik Randolph bracket, beating the Mississippi Moss Point Tigers 77-64 on Friday morning.
Cincinnati recruit and Clayton star Gary Clark helped lift the team past the Tigers for its first win in the tournament. Clark came a block away from a triple-double, finishing with the monstrous stat line of 35 points, 22 rebounds and nine blocks.
"It really feels good to play at that level all game and see the outcome of it," Clark said.
After losing to the Apex Cougars on Thursday afternoon, Moss Point jumped to a quick with a three-point shot from Kentucky recruit Devin Booker. Terrance Trussell added another deep shot and the Tigers led 8-0 in the opening minutes.
Clayton battled back later in the quarter and trailed 19-12 at the end of the first eight minutes of play.
The Comets pulled closer in the second quarter, holding Booker scoreless through the first five minutes and only allowing him five points in the quarter. Clayton trailed 30-28 at halftime.
"I thought we started the game pretty well," said Moss Point head coach Micoe Cotton. "We tried to pack it inside and have a few bodies on Clark, but the second half we didn't come out and execute defensively."
Clark and the Comets took over the second half. Dawson Medlin began the third quarter with two shots from beyond the arc after struggling from the field in the opening quarters. Clark matched his first-half scoring and had 13 points in the third quarter. Clayton opened the quarter on a 14-4 scoring run and led 52-44 at the end of the period.
"We started out sluggish and missed a few opportunities early," said Clayton head coach Denny Medlin. "Second half, we got the ball to go in the goal a little bit, and things always go a little better when the ball goes in the goal."
Booker scored 14 points in the final quarter of play to bring Moss Point back into contention. The Tigers pulled within three points in the final quarter, but Medlin's shooting and late free-throws from Clark were too much to overcome.
"I thought the effort was there defensively on Booker, but it was very difficult to keep him off the free-throw line, and that's a credit to him for knowing how to get there," Medlin said.
Supporting Clark, Chris Dixon scored 17 points for Clayton, while Medlin had 12 on 4-of-9 shooting from behind the three-point line. Starting guard Jake Turner scored ten points in the win.
For Moss Point, Booker broke the Holiday Invitational all-time record for free throws in a single game, shooting 22-for-24 from the foul line. He led all scorers with 38 points on 7-of-23 shooting from the line. He also finished with 11 rebounds. Marcus Watson was the only other Tiger in double-figures. He finished with 11 points.
"If my shot's not falling like it has been in this tournament, I'm going to try to assert myself in different ways and get to the free throw line," Booker said. "Those are free points for me."
For Clayton, the win put the Comets back on track after falling hard to Orlando, FL Lake Highland Prep on Thursday, 73-45.
"Real glad we came back and bounced back after being embarrassed last night," Medlin said. "To come out and compete like we did and get the win over a good team--I'm proud of them today."
The Comets will advance in the consolation bracket of Shavlik Randolph portion of the tournament. They will play the winner of a match-up between Broughton and Garner on Friday afternoon. The third-round game will be played Saturday at 1 p.m.
Winless in the tournament, Moss Point will the loser of the Garner vs. Broughton game.
Follow Zach Mayo on Twitter at @ZachMayoHSOT
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