CLAYTON — Clayton proved it knew more than one way to win in its boys 4A sectional final Friday night.
Going against one of the stingiest defenses the Comets have faced all season, they responded with a balanced scoring effort.
Gary Clark, the Comets’ 6-foot-8 center bound for Cincinnati, and teammates Chris Dixon and Tre Armstead scored 15 points each in a convincing 61-51 win over visiting Broughton.
The win in front of a packed house avenged an earlier loss. Broughton had won the teams’ regular-season meeting 67-61 in December in the fifth-place game of the HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational at Holliday Gym.
Clayton (23-4) advanced to the Eastern semifinals against Apex on Friday night at Fayetteville’s Crown Coliseum. The Caps, who were state runners-up last season, finished 21-7.
“The first time we played them was a consolation game in the middle of the day, and I don’t think that game was a measure of how good either team was,” said Clayton coach Denny Medlin, whose team was eliminated in the regional semifinals last season. “And the atmosphere was totally different.
“Tonight we got better defensively in the third quarter. We got out in the passing lanes, made sure they couldn’t feed the post in that high-low and were forcing back-cuts. We really played well. Gary was back on defense and protecting the rim and was rebounding well.”
Clark finished with 15 rebounds.
“I’m just real proud of my guys,” Medlin said. “Jake Turner did a great job guarding Cam Gottfried, and that’s something that doesn’t show up in the stats.”
Gottfried, a senior guard bound for Siena, was the only Broughton player in double figures with 15 points.
“At times we played really well,” Broughton coach Jeff Ferrell said. “We increased our lead early in the second half and were feeling really good about ourselves, and then they went on a big run to end the third quarter.
“It was a combination of a lot of things. Clayton attacked the basket very well and finished some shots. Gary is everything everybody always said he is.”
The Caps led 28-25 at halftime behind seven points from Gottfried. Clark had eight for Clayton.
There were five ties and three lead changes in the half, with Clark scoring the final points on a three-point play at the buzzer.
The Comets took over when they outscored Broughton 23-8 in the third quarter without Clark tallying a point in the quarter.
“Broughton plays great defense,” Clark said. “But we got great guard play tonight. The other guys did a great job finishing around the rim and showed a lot of patience.
“At halftime I said it was our last time playing in Clayton’s gym and how they wanted to finish it. And the guys really stepped up.”