Strong play in the middle quarters and an outstanding offensive performance by freshman Asia Todd carried Clayton’s girls to a 44-36 nonconference basketball victory over Corinth Holders on Tuesday night.
The Comets (5-8) trailed 14-7 at the end of the first period but rallied behind Todd and Denisha Jeffreys in the second period – outscoring Corinth Holders 15-2 in the period to take a 22-17 halftime lead. The margin was up to 10 points by the end of the third period.
Corinth Holders (7-6) rallied in the final period, cutting the margin to a single point at 36-35 with four minutes left but scored only a single point the rest of the way.
After Corinth pulled within a point, Todd scored with 1:55 left to push the margin back to 38-35 and added the final three Comets points at the free throw line in the final 17.3 seconds. Todd finished with 24 points to lead all scorers.
“(Todd) played extremely well,” said Clayton assistant coach Gennette Pulley, who took over for Marlon Lee after the Comets’ head coach, a Smithfield town councilman, left in the second quarter to attend a town council meeting.
While Todd carried the offensive load, Pulley said the Comets’ ability to limit turnovers was a big factor in the win.
“We definitely eliminated a lot of turnovers that we normally have,” Pulley said. “Toward the end of the game, they stayed focused and got the ‘W.’ ”
Corinth Holders started strong but was plagued by a cold shooting night.
“We didn’t play to the best of our ability, bottom line,” Corinth Holders coach Brandy Smith said. “Even coming back from down 10 and being right there with the game in reach being down by just one, we still had had layup opportunities on back-to-back possessions and missed them.
“Then we missed some free throws and had some turnovers and did not allow ourselves a chance to take the lead at the end.”
The second quarter was all Clayton. The Comets trailed 14-7 at the end of the first period but erased the seven-point deficit with a 15-2 edge in the period.
“We just tried to eliminate that lob (pass) that was hurting us in the beginning and put pressure on the ball,” Pulley said.
They said it
“They all listened, they all executed everything well and they kept their composure,” Pulley said. “That allowed their intensity to stay up and also to take care of the basketball.”
Three who mattered
Clayton’s Asia Todd: The 5-foot-7 freshman poured in a game-high 24 points. Todd always seemed to be able to come up with a big bucket when the Comets needed it – the biggest a basket once the Pirates had pulled within a single point in the final period.
Clayton’s Denisha Jeffreys: The senior guard was in the middle of the Comets’ second-quarter surge, coming up with three steals and scoring three points in a one-minute stretch. Jeffreys finished with six points but her defense was invaluable.
Corinth Holders’ Melanie Tola: The junior post player led the Pirates with 13 points.