CLAYTON — Anthony Gaskins got hot on the right night for Clayton, and that helped the Comets win a huge game with visiting archrival Garner on Wednesday night.
The senior guard poured in a career-high 32 points while center Gary Clark added 21, sparking the Comets to a 67-61 victory in Greater Neuse River 4A boys’ action in a raucous packed house.
The result, which broke Garner’s 21-game conference winning streak, improved the Comets to 18-2, 8-1 in GNRC play while the Trojans fell to 16-3 and 10-1.
Garner had won the teams’ first meeting 88-83 on Jan. 23. This meeting had been postponed twice, once because of the death of Clayton baseball player Hogan Teem and then again because of a winter storm.
Both teams had won Tuesday night at home.
Clark pulled down 15 rebounds and blocked seven shots for the Comets, while Chris Dixon chipped in 11 points.
“We came out in our matchup zone first quarter and thought we’d be able to defend them a little better,” said Clayton coach Denny Medlin, whose team trailed 21-6 after the first quarter. “But we just weren’t getting stops.
“We finally started trapping them in the half court and then we started putting the ball in the goal. We needed Gaskins to get hot and he did. He has a tendency to do that in big games.”
Garner got 19 points from Demarcus Sanford and 13 each from Julius Barnes and Jasper Stallings.
“Gaskins is kind of a streaky shooter,” Garner coach Eddie Gray said. “He was on tonight, and we didn’t do a good job taking care of the basketball at crucial times. But I’m real proud of the way our guys scrapped when we could have gotten blown out. Clark’s a talented player and we don’t have anything physical to match with him, but I was real proud of the way Jasper played him inside.”
The Trojans got momentum from the outset with a first quarter that ended in a 10-0 run. Barnes had seven points in the period, including a four-point play with 4.5 seconds left.
But the second quarter was all Clayton, as Gaskins scored 10 points including a three-point play and a 3-pointer and the Trojans led 29-26 at the break.
“We were down at halftime and I told the boys we had to finish the war off,” Gaskins said. “And everybody heated up. Gary did what he had to do and the whole team just executed.”
The Comets kept the momentum in the third period behind 12 more points from Gaskins, going into the final eight minutes up 48-43.
Clayton led the whole fourth quarter, but Garner cut it to 64-61 on Sammy Saunders’ follow shot with 1:04 left.