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Clanton swishes Champs’ game-winner

By WILL CARTER ~ Sports Writer
Posted 1/24/23

BELL BUCKLE — Coming off a wire-to-wire finish earlier in the week, the Cascade Champions (17-4) found themselves in that same position on Friday night as they took down the Fayetteville City …

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Clanton swishes Champs’ game-winner


BELL BUCKLE — Coming off a wire-to-wire finish earlier in the week, the Cascade Champions (17-4) found themselves in that same position on Friday night as they took down the Fayetteville City Tigers (7-6) in the final seconds for a 48-46 victory. 
It all came down to the final minute of the game as the Tigers had possession with the game tied at 46 each. 
The Tigers kept the ball outside the three-point line, attempting to run some time off the clock before they took the potential game-winning shot, but the Champions locked in defensively and Jackson Davis forced a five-second violation with 35 seconds remaining to give Cascade the ball. 
Cascade head coach Chris Lawson called a timeout immediately after to draw up a play for potentially their final offensive possession of the game. 
Coming out of the timeout, the Champions ran their normal offense until Lucas Clanton carved out some space in the paint for an entry pass. 
He made his move and rose up for a jumper and the ball swished through the nylon for a 48-46 Champion lead with nine seconds left. 
Fayetteville wasted no time, and got the ball in quickly to push it up the floor. 
On the other end awaited Thomas Gentry who put his body on the line for a charge, and the Champions got the ball back on the baseline with 1.4 seconds remaining. 
Lawson called one final timeout to get his team organized for the last plate of the game. 
Saebyn Burris got the ball in and the time ran out as the Champions escaped with a narrow victory again. 
“I felt like we had the best player on the floor in Lucas Clanton. In crunch time we want the ball in his hands, so he can take the last shot,” Lawson said.
“We ran our normal offense until the ball moved around to Lucas in the paint, and he did what he does. It was a little early in the clock so they got the ball back, but Thomas Gentry made a huge play on the other end by taking a charge with the game on the line.”
Cascade got off on the right foot against Fayetteville by taking a 15-10 lead after the opening quarter behind Gentry and Lucas Clanton’s 13 combined points, but it wasn’t an easy quarter to win. 
The Tigers hit back-to-back three-pointers two minutes into the quarter to take a narrow lead and they held onto it for just under two minutes before Clanton tied it up at eight apiece with a three of his own. 
Gentry knocked down two free throws a minute later for the Champions first lead of the game, and they carried it into the next frame. 
It was a back-and-forth affair in the second up until the final minute before halftime. 
Cascade started on a small run behind Isaac McElroy’s back-to-back baskets for five points to open the quarter, but Fayetteville followed it up with an 8-0 run of their own. 
The Tigers finally tied the game back up at 22 each with 1:41 left in the half.
Less than a minute later, they took their first lead since early in the first quarter when Kentius Henderson knocked down a three-pointer. 
They carried their 25-24 lead into the halftime break. 
After the half, Cascade’s offensive struggles continued as they couldn’t get much to go for only six points in the third quarter. 
 “I told the guys at halftime that the last four or five minutes of the second quarter we didn’t run our sets or play organized,” Lawson said. “We had a 10-point lead and that evaporated, so we went into halftime down. Coming out of the half, we struggled again in the third quarter.”
The Tigers relied on Isaiah Thomison and Bryson Johnson in the frame as the two combined for all 10 of their points, and they extended their lead to 35-30 with one quarter to play. 
Cascade battled back with everything they had in the final frame as all five starters contributed to their 18 point total to close out the game. 
After six minutes passed in the quarter, the Champions tied the game back up when Gentry knocked down a three-pointer to make it 44-44. 
Fayetteville took the lead once more before Davis knocked down two free throws to tie it at 46 apiece, and the five-second violation he forced came on the following play. 
“If you have some games that come down to one or two points in the end and you’re losing them, then you have work to do,” Lawson said. “Knock on wood, but with this experienced group we’ve been able to hit those shots when we need them this season.”
It’s a week of road trips for the Champions as they kick it off with a matchup against the Watertown Purple Tigers on Tuesday night.
Tip-off is set to follow the girls’ game. 

Cascade 15 9 6 18 — 48
Fayetteville 10 15 10 11 — 46

Cascade: Lucas Clanton 14, Jackson Davis 12, Thomas Gentry 8, Isaac McElroy 7, Jayden Gulick 3, Saebyn Burris 2, Sawyer Lovvorn 2.
Fayetteville: Isaiah Thomison 14, Camaurionn Taylor 11, Bryson Johnson 6, Aljarea Johnson 6, Lateral Brown 3, Kentius Henderson 3, Teondre Love 3. 
3-point Goals: Cascade (5): Clanton 2, Gentry 2, Gulick.; Fayetteville (6): Taylor 3, Brown, Thomison, Henderson, Love.
Halftime Score: Fayetteville 25, Cascade 24.