The Clayton girls basketball team is accustomed to a certain level of success but, going into its non-conference game against county rival Smithfield-Selma Friday night, the Comets were still looking for their first win of the season.
Clayton needed to look no further than rebounding the basketball to change its fortune as the Comets dominated the glass in a 50-39 road win.
Maya Williams turned in a double-double performance with 12 points and 14 rebounds and Casandra Bennett and Alexis Teel each hauled in eight rebounds as well as Clayton was in control for much of the game.
“These young ladies have persevered. We came in here at 0-5 and we easily could’ve folded,” Clayton coach Marlon Lee said. “If we play until that last tick goes off and we play hard and with effort, anything can happen.”
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Six different Comet players scored in the opening quarter alone as a well-balanced attack built a 16-7 break at the first intermission.
The Spartans, who defeated the Comets (1-5) by 12 points the week before, had a tough time getting into a rhythm offensively
“We were just out of sync tonight,” Smithfield-Selma coach Williams Sanders said. “I think sometimes when you play (a team) and then come out and play them again, you think you’ll ride off of the first win and you forget a lot of things in the second game.”
Down by 11 points at halftime, Spartan guards Logan Lee and Dazmine Young helped Smithfield-Selma to chip into the lead in the third quarter as the tandem accounted for 10 points.
The momentum carried over to the fourth quarter as Parker Watson nailed a jumper from the baseline and Diamond Blackston knocked a couple of shots, the second one being a three-pointer that gave the Spartans their first and only lead of the night at 37-36 with 5:55 remaining.
Clayton closed the game out on a 14-2 run, however, as their dominance on the glass and nice interior passing allowed them once again take control.
Endaisha Howard and Teel each finished with nine points while Alexis Dixon and Aushonna Langley both added seven points.
“We’re not having the success early on that we’re used to normally but I told the young ladies that all that is doing is making us stronger,” said Lee. “They beat us pretty handedly last time but to come in here on the road in a big time environment — those girls did great.”
Blackston led the Spartans (4-2) with 14 points while Young added 12 although Smithfield-Selma could not come up with enough offense to cancel out the extra possessions afforded to their guests via offensive rebounding.