(01/12/2012)
By Gaylen Duskey
realfang@citlink.net

Justin Blankenship seemed like a man who could not miss Wednesday night as he scored 25 points in three quarters of play to lead visiting Clay to a 74-33 victory over winless Calhoun County.

Blankenship had 21 points at halftime including 15 in the all-important second quarter when Clay turned a close game into a laugher.

The Red Devils, 0-11, actually played some very good basketball in the first quarter as Tyler Gerwig scored six of his team high 12 and Clay only held a one-point lead, 15-14.

But as good as Calhoun played in the first was as bad as the Red Devils played in the final three quarters as everything - from offense to defense - broke down. The Red Devils had trouble passing the ball, catching the ball (34 turnovers), shooting the ball (14 for 38 overall and eight of 28 after the first period), playing defense (Blankenship had 15 while he destroyed the Red Devils from the corner) and at times finding a great deal of effort.

After the close first quarter Clay broke it open in the second by outscoring the Red Devils 24-4, including a streak at the end of the quarter where it outscored the Red Devils 16-0.The second half was merely a mirror of the second quarter as the veteran Panthers, 4-3, pulled away.

Backing Blankenship for Clay was Matt Gillispie with 11 and Travis Morris with 10. Garrett Ellison added nine, Chris Cole six, Michael Shamblin five and Alex Burkhammer and Storm Carner four each.

Gerwig led Calhoun with a career high 12 points as he showed flashes of the play that made him one of the top eight-grade players in the central part of the state last year. He hit all five shots and added two of four from the free throw line.

Caleb Schoolcraft was next with eight. He was followed by Ryan Slider with five, Like Moore with four and Trent Phillips and Ricky Hall with two each. Sam Brady, Lucas Wilson, Derek Dawson, Isaac Coon, William Baker and Tyler Tanner all played but did not score.

Starting forward missed the game with an injured leg while Hall was battling the effects of an illness. The Red Devils also had Dawson come out of the game with an injury to his leg in the second half.

The junior varsity game was eerily similar to the varsity game as Calhoun came out like gangbusters and trailed by a point at the end of the first period before being blown out the rest of the way, 57-17.

Clay, 4-3, was aided by the fact the school has a freshman team and all the junior varsity players are upperclassmen while the vast majority of Calhoun's junior varsity players are freshmen.

Justin Shannon led Clay with 11 while Carner and Dakota Keener added 10 each.

The game was "one of those night" type things as the Red Devils missed a ton of easy shots while the Panthers Elijah Vandergelder, who had never played basketball before, not only got his first career points, but ended up with nine.

Cole added seven while Shamblin and Isaiah Mitchell had four each and Tyler Cottrill two.

Wilson led Calhoun with 11.

Calhoun, now losers of 32 straight, will try to end the losing streak Friday night when it plays Gilmer in a varsity-only affair starting at 7 p.m. Clay is on the road at Poca.


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