It seemed like neither team could miss at the beginning of Saturday night's Sandusky Bay Conference match between St. Mary Central Catholic and Clyde.
The Panthers and Fliers opened up the first quarter on 60 percent shooting from the field, but it was the Fliers that managed to stay hot.
After trailing at halftime, Clyde opened the second half on a 13-2 run and used the momentum to upset the Panthers 75-65 at the Den.
“We set the tone in that third quarter and came out and had a nice run,” Clyde coach Ryan Carter said. “We were able to get some easy ones and not have to work at them so hard. (SMCC) does such a great job of pressuring and being long. They have some really great players and they are really good at their place, so for us to go on the road and get a win, I am really proud of our kids.”
Derek Gray and Colin Gregory were the 1-2 punch that couldn't be stopped Saturday night, combining for 51 of the teams' points.
Gray's 26 points got him to the 1,000-point mark in his career. He also added two steals and six rebounds. Gregory added a double-double with 25 points and 16 rebounds.
“A lot of times coaches get to this point and you get a kid like that and you don't want to brag about him,” Carter said. “He's gotten every award, and you don't want to make the other guys in the locker room feel unappreciated. I can't do that with that kid. He has been too special to my program for four years.
“Everything he gets, every accolade, he deserves,” Carter added. “He is 5-foot-8 and getting it done against big kids. For him to be able to do what he has done for us for four years speaks monuments of him as a kid and what he has done.”
The Fliers trailed by two heading into the second half, but took the lead on the first possession on a deep three from Dristen Cook. He scored another 3-pointer less than a minute later and Gregory added a rebound put-back score to give the Fliers a 39-33 cushion.
“Coming right out of the break he knocked down those two big threes for us—that was huge and set the tone for us,” Carter said.
Four points from Eric Wiseman and another two from Gregory made it 44-35 midway through the third quarter, but the Panthers closed out the quarter on a 13-8 run to cut the deficit to four points heading into the final eight minutes.
Harris hit a free throw and followed with a jumper to make it a one-point game at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but Gray responded with a jumper of his own and Cook drained another deep three. Gray added a three with 6:25 left to play and Clyde called a timeout with a nine-point lead.
“Just to try to set our defense,” Carter explained. “They were going so hard in transition and I had timeouts to use and I wanted to use them just to set our defense up and give our guys a break because I wasn't able to get them breaks very often tonight. We played pretty much with 5-6 the entire night.”
The Panthers got it within six points with under two minutes to play but failed to connect on several consecutive threes.
“We just came down and shot five5 3-point shots in a row and missed them and you can't do that,” SMCC coach Lyle Falknor said. “Teams playing a zone, you have to move the basketball and make the zone move and we didn't. We didn't play very good team ball tonight.
“I think we settled for the 3-point shot. If you are going to take them, you better make a few of them. If we would have hit a few a little later we could have gotten back in to it. You have to mix it up and we didn't get the ball inside enough.”
The Fliers shot 53 percent from the field in the second half, while the Panthers only managed to shoot 35 percent.
“When you have a guard like Derek, it makes your life pretty easy,” Carter said of Gray. “They pressured him the entire time. When you have a guard like that, you can do a lot of things.”
Gray talked about the team's balanced attack. The Fliers had all five starters score.
“We share the ball well as a team and we trust each other,” Gray said. “It's a big win because we can build momentum going into the next game. Hopefully it just keep building.”
Gray also talked about Gregory's performance.
“I don't think any coach realizes it, but Colin is one of our top guys,” he said. “It's not even me, it's him. He does all the rebounding for us and he played like a madman tonight and got almost every board that was up there.”
Gray said he knew he was getting close to the 1,000-point mark, but cared more about beating SMCC.
“It's always great to come out with a win,” he said. “This is a team win and not about me. In the back of the mind it was there, but the most important thing is getting the win and that is what was important to me tonight.”