Times Sports Editor
The North Clay seventh --and-eighth-grade boy's basketball teams hadn't squared off against an opponent other than themselves in practice for three weeks over the holiday break, but the visiting Cascade Cadets came calling for a pair of games on Wednesday.
The offenses looked to be in midseason form for both teams, but the Knights were able to only corral one win as the eighth-grade team scored a 57-39 victory and the seventh-grade dropped a 50-46 decision.
The eighth-grade Knights hit the court running behind nine points from Joe Ball, six from Gabe Rogers and five from Cade Newton. North Clay racked up a 22-8 lead after just one period.
The Knights stayed on the attack for much of the game, having success driving to the hoop. Ball got to the line to hit five-of-eight free throws in the second quarter on the way to a 20-point effort.
Turnovers were a problem in the second quarter for the Knights, who gave up 18 points to the Cadets, but North Clay stayed on track on offense. Newton contributed 10 of his 12 points before halftime.
In the third period, the Knights' ability to drive to the basket paid dividends for Derek Mills, who scored all eight of his points on lay-ups as the Cadets' defense collapsed on the ball handlers. Mills also pulled down eight rebounds off the bench for the Knights.
In the game, Rogers had 11 points and five rebounds while Newton added seven boards. Skyler Aguilar was a perfect four-for-four at the free throw line in the game and Nick McCollum added three rebounds. Austin Russell and Gaddis Baysinger each had two points.
In the seventh-grade game, the Knights were forced to fight back from behind early in the game as Cascade led 13-6 after the first quarter and led 19-7 in the second period. However, North Clay got untracked as Liam Jones sparked the offense on a 16-0 run. Jones made a nice save on a ball going out-of-bounds that resulted in a 3-pointer on a feed from Tucker Stewart that tied the score. Sam Grimes scored to give the Knights a 21-19 lead and a steal led to a lay-in by Jones for a 23-19 North Clay lead.
The Knights racked up their own 22-point quarter in scrambling back to take a 28-23 lead at halftime. Stewart had seven points in the second period and Jones added nine of his own around five, first half points from Quinton Hayes.
After the break, the Cadets began to figure out North Clay's full court pressure after committing 10 turnovers in the second period. Cascade outscored the Knights 16-6 in the third period to regain the lead at 39-34 heading to the fourth quarter.
The Knights had one more run in them as Stewart drilled a 3-pointer to tie the score at 41-all and had a chance to take the lead following a Cascade turnover. However, the Knights couldn't take advantage.
Cascade finished the game strong to take the victory.
Stewart had 16 points with Jones tallying 14 and Ben Girton scoring seven. Nathan Thomas had five rebounds and Grimes pulled down seven boards.
The North Clay seventh-grade 'A' team is now 3-10 overall and hosts South Vermillion on Jan. 10 while the eighth-grade team is now 5-6 this season and hits the road the same night to face the Wildcats.
At North Clay