A ‘Dog fight in the ‘Boro: Hampton claws and scratches way to semis with overtime win over Clay Co., 80-70

Published 6:53 pm Thursday, March 17, 2016


MURFREESBORO— It wasn’t a dog-fighting ring, but one couldn’t tell as two groups of ‘Dogs were growling, clawing and biting for all they had in them for 36 minutes inside The Murphy Center on the campus of MTSU Thursday afternoon.

When the dust finally settled, the Hampton Bulldogs came out the top ‘Dog as they tied the game in regulation on an Adam McClain deep bomb from the left corner and then went on to post a thrilling 80-70 overtime win over the Clay County Bulldogs in the 2016 Blue Cross Boys’ Class A State Tournament.

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“We had a big sub-state game at home with a big crowd there and it was close,” said Hampton head coach Ned Smith. “Meigs Co. went ahead, but the kids maintained their composure there, and the kids held their composure this morning.

“The free throws were big down the stretch, and I thought that the kids being in shape with the tempo being played was huge also. God has just been with us all the way!”

Hampton (29-6) showed no fear throughout the contest as Clay County (31-3) worked out front by four points as the halftime horn sounded, 32-28.

Tyreke Key of Clay Co. showed why he was a Class A Mr. Basketball finalist this season as the junior poured in 16 of the 32 points to power his ‘Dogs in the half.

Jonathan Browning added seven for the team from Celina, Tennessee.

Most knew going in that Hampton would need an X-factor to help advance to the next round and they found that in Jose Velazquez who scored 13 points in the first half hitting 3-of-4 from beyond the arc.

“Well I was feeling nervous, but they were staying off of me and I figured I would see if I could make one so it went in and I was feeling good after that,” said Velazquez.

Coby Jones netted 10 as well to keep Hampton close.

Both teams shot the ball well in the half as Clay Co. hit 11-of 24 from the field for 45.8 percent while Hampton hit at a 40.7 percent clip, 11-of-27.

Clay Co. won the early rebound war hauling in 18, six offensive and 12 defensive boards, while Hampton snared 11, three on the offensive end and eight defensive rebounds.

Jones led the way with four boards while Dakota Crumley reeled in three.

Both teams exited the locker rooms after intermission as Clay Co. continued to maintain the upper hand in the contest at the third stop, 47-44.

Key added four points to his tally sheet to end the third quarter with 20. Browning showed 10 on his log while senior 6’6” post Wyatt Mabry finally came to life scoring six points in the period to also score 10 through the first 24 minutes of play.

With Jones being silent in the period, Hampton guard Nathan Norris picked up the slack by scoring five points while Crumley came up big with four points. Charlie Butler added a field goal as well.

Eight minutes were all that stood behind staying alive for another day or hanging up the sneakers for the season as both teams took the court to start the fourth period.

Clay Co. was feeling pretty good with 5:42 remaining after Key converted a three-point play to push the lead to 55-49.

Hampton, however, wasn’t ready to run away and hide as Smith’s Bulldogs methodically and calmly kept playing their game and eventually pulled even at 55-all when Velazquez nailed a short jumper with 2:45 to play.

Clay Co. grabbed the lead back quickly as Mabry worked the paint for a deuce. Pushing the basketball up the court quickly, Hampton took the seesaw lead back as Jones drilled a trey with 2:17 showing to make it a 58-57 Hampton lead.

Jones pushed the lead to three when he connected on a slashing layup to make it 60-57 ‘Dogs with 1:30 to play.

A Browning trifecta knotted the game again 20 seconds later at 60-60. McClain nudged Hampton back into the lead with two free throws making it 62-60 with 40 seconds remaining in regulation.

It was Smith again for Clay Co. as the sharpshooter gunned in his second straight trey to give his team the 63-62 lead with 33 seconds remaining.

Things weren’t looking too good for Hampton 13 seconds later when Mabry connected on two free throws to give Clay Co. a three-point advantage, 65-62, with only 10 ticks remaining on the clock.

Hampton wasn’t about to be finished for the season as McClain worked the ball to Norris who was swarmed by the Clay County defense on the left wing before firing the ball back to McClain who pulled the trigger with three seconds remaining.

The shot was true and pandemonium erupted from the Hampton cheering section as the large crowd was getting four more minutes of basketball with the game tighter than Dick’s hatband tied at 65-all.

“We’ve got a great team and have been practicing on that all year,” said Jones after the game. “Especially being here the last three years has helped us, to like I said, not be scared of the intimidation or anything coming in here, and we really handled ourselves well.

“We have great leaders,” added Jones. “We subbed a lot like coach said, and we practice three hours a day on the press, and we are running all the time so we were just fresher than they were.”

Hampton owned the overtime session as Crumley’s two foul shots gave the Carter County team a 67-65 lead. After a Browning turnover, Jones drove hard to the rim for another lay in and Hampton led 69-65.

After Mabry missed a jumper, Norris found a sprinting Velazquez for an easy layup and a six-point Hampton lead, 71-65.

From that point, it was just a matter of solid free-throw shooting as Hampton made the most of their trips as McClain hit four, Charlie Butler four, and Crumley one to seal the win.

Jones led Hampton with 22 points in the contest before fouling out late in overtime. Velazquez earned his stripes with a 17-point effort while Norris dropped in 13.

McClain, the hero of the game for Hampton, ended up with 12 putting a quartet of ‘Dogs into double figures.

McClain was asked about the big three that sent the game into overtime.

“Well, we knew we had to make a three so when Nathan went to the basket, I was wide open in the corner,” said McClain. “Coach was calling head and Nathan came off the pick, and we were looking for a three and they were helping out on Nate so I got the opportunity to shoot it.”

Crumley (7), Butler (6), Wyatt Lyons (2), and Chris Holtsclaw (1) all came up big at critical times as well for Hampton.

Jones pointed out that the players represent a lot of tradition at Hampton and the fans have shown them support all season.

“We have a wonderful tradition at Hampton,” stated Jones. “The fans came out here this morning lit. They came all the way from Hampton to support us. We have a great fan base and the Lord was definitely with us his morning.

“It’s exciting to be playing Mitchell. We played them two years ago. We are going out there and play them hard tomorrow.”

Key, who was hounded relentlessly by McClain in the second half finished with a game-high 25 points, scoring only nine in the second half and overtime period.

Browning finished with 18 hitting 4-of-8 from beyond the arc while Mabry was a handful in the middle scoring 14 points.

Hampton shot 48.1 percent for the game (26-of-54) while Clay Co. hit 24-of-53 for 45.3 percent.

Clay Co. won the battle on the boards, 32-26, led by Mabry with 12 boards. Jones led Hampton in the category with seven while Crumley and Norris accounted for five each.

Hampton also shot 20-of-24 from the charity stripe which figures in at 83.3 percent for the game.

Clay Co. head coach Rob Edwards said that they knew they were going to have their hands full with Jones and the rest of the Hampton team.

“We knew going in that he (Jones) was their guy,” stated Edwards. “I thought we had done a pretty good job on him to that point. It’s one of those situations where big time players make big plays. When it gets down to the nitty-gritty, he made shots when he had to.

“That whole Hampton team—Coach Smith does a great job with them. They are a classy bunch and are very good.”


2016 Blue Cross Boys Basketball Championship

Hampton, 80-70 Overtime

Clay County (70)

Peyton Smith 6, Jonathan Browning 18, Wyatt Mabry 14, Tyreke Key 25, Clay Copas 4, Dawson Russell 3.

Hampton (80) 

Chris Holtsclaw 1, Adam McClain 12, Coby Jones 22, Nathan Norris 13, Wyatt Lyons 2, Jose Velazquez 17, Charlie Butler 6, Dakota Crumley 7.

Clay County…. 15   17   15   18      5 – 70

Hampton….……14   14   16   21   15 – 80

3-PT Goals: Clay County 8 (Jonathan Browning 4, Tyreke Key, Dawson Russell, Peyton Smith 2). Hampton 8 (Adam McClain, Coby Jones, Nathan Norris 3, Jose Velazquez 3).