David Clemmons had a big smile on his face Friday night as he came out to talk with fans after his Metcalfe County Hornets beat Hart County 55-52 in the second round of the T.J. Samson Community Hospital Classic Basketball Tournament.
The game turned out to be a thriller for the Hornets. Metcalfe County led from the opening tip only to lose the lead with 2:00 left to play in the game. The Hornets fought back to score the last six points of the contest to secure the win.
“It feels really good to get this win,” said Clemmons, in his first season with the Hornets. “It feels good because we had to fight the entire game. These kids gave me everything they had for 32 minutes.”
Thanks to a strong defensive effort, the Hornets took an early 12-7 advantage at the end of the first period. Hart County cut into the Metcalfe County lead slightly in the second period, but the Hornets still lead 23-20 at the intermission.
The Raiders made a charge early in the third period. Back-to-back 3-pointers from Justin Riffle brought Hart County to within one at 31-30 with 4:37 to go in the quarter. A basket by Spencer Noe and a free throw by Colby White pushed the Hornets’ lead back to 34-30, but the Raiders came back again and thanks to the hot hand of Riffle and Ross Thompson, Hart County was within three at 43-40 when the final quarter began.
The two teams battled back and forth through the final eight minutes. A bucket by Thompson at the 3:32 mark tied the game for the Raiders at 46-46. But Ty McMurtrey sank two free throws for the Hornets to make it 48-46. Hart County kept battling back and when Thompson hit two free throws with 1:45 on the clock, Hart County had the lead at 52-49.
“There late in the game, I called a timeout and I told them if I knew a good joke I would tell it to them,” Clemmons said. “I wanted them to just relax.”
It worked. The Hornets came down and the next possession and Noe nailed a 3-pointer to tie the game at 52-52 with 1:18 on the clock. After a missed shot by Riffle, McMurtrey nailed a jumper from the lane to give the Hornets a 54-52 advantage.
Hart County came back down and Thompson missed a jumper from the right side, but Noe grabbed the rebound and was fouled with less than 30 seconds to play in the game. He missed the first shot, but made the second one to make it 55-52.
The Raiders came back down for a last second shot, but it would not go in.
Colby White and Bell led the Hornets in scoring with 13 points each. Noe had nine points and Lance Zurmehly chipped in with eight. Gage Edmunds and McMurtrey scored five points a piece, while Jalen Clemmons scored two.
“I thought Logan Bell had a great game tonight and I thought Austin Pennington really stepped up tonight,” Clemmons relayed. “This win, I think, speaks volumes about these kids.”
The Hornets will play in the fifth place game Saturday evening at 6 p.m. at Metcalfe County High School.