Clopton Wins Second Consecutive District Championship Title
Home Court Advantage Helps Boost Hawks To 14-Point Victory Over Bulldogs
In their fourth and final match up this year it was Clopton that emerged victorious in a hard-fought battle to win the Class 2 District 6 championship.
The title tilt on Saturday was tight throughout three quarters with the biggest lead for each team being five points. The Hawks were able to break open the game in the fourth with strong defense and an outstanding rebounding effort.
Toward the end of the first quarter, the teams were tied at 11 points each. With seconds remaining, Jamon Graham drove inside to score and drew a foul by Zac Harrison. Graham hit the free throw to complete the three-point play to end the quarter with Clopton up 14-11. The Hawks got points from six different players in the first quarter including Landon Hall, Kevin Hammett, Scott Kuntz, Mark Frank, Stephen Talbert and Graham.
Louisiana got a three pointer from Michael Francis and four points each from Derek Richards and Gabe Henderson in the opening frame.
The Hawks had the lead up to five points halfway through the second quarter but Hall picked up an offensive foul and the momentum shifted to the Bulldogs. Trailing 18-13, Louisiana got buckets from P.J. Francis, Henderson and Richards to put the Bulldogs up 19-18.
Hall put Clopton up 20-19 with a basket with just over a minute remaining but Richards scored again to put the Bulldogs up by a point. A long shot at the buzzer fell short for Clopton so Louisiana led at halftime, 21-20.
The Bulldogs outscored Clopton in the second quarter 10-6.
Louisiana stretched the lead to five points, 26-21, to start the third quarter. Hall scored and drew a foul by Hunter Feldewerth to complete a three-point play. Despite several turnovers, the teams remained close. A three pointer by Stephen Talbert tied the game at 29 with about three minutes to go in the third. Michael Francis put Louisiana back up with a basket but a couple of bad possessions and Clopton gained the lead by a point. A putback by Graham took the Hawks up 35-31 to end the third quarter as Clopton outscored Louisiana 15-10 in the third.
Clopton kept their foot on the throttle through the fourth quarter, outscoring Louisiana 25-14. While the Bulldogs were 9-10 from the free throw line in the game, the Bulldogs put Clopton on the line 35 times and the Hawks made 26 of those points. Clopton got 17 points from free throws in the final frame as the Hawks only missed four in that quarter. Richards sank a pair of three pointers and nailed a pair of buckets in the fouth, but he was the only one to score for the Bulldogs. The Hawks got three field goals from Kuntz and a bucket from Graham in addition to free throws from five different players to close out the game.
Coach Craig Smith said the win was really great for the program, players, fans and the community.
“It is something special to win a district title, but to do it on your home floor with the crowd and atmosphere we had Saturday evening is really special. I’m so glad that everyone got to experience it. I thought we really played well all week long. The players did a fantastic job of defending home court and finished the season undefeated in the Dale Miller Gymnasium on Ed Lindsay Court.”
Smith noted the Hawks will have to keep playing their game with the same all-out effort as they move forward in the postseason.
“These guys finished last season with a bitter taste in their mouth with the loss to Bloomfield [in the quarterfinal]. We need to learn from our mistakes last year at this time and have practices that will get us to our ultimate goal,” Smith remarked.
Hall had a good night for the Hawks with 15 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal for the Hawks. Talbert also did well with a double-double of 10 points, 11 rebounds, three steals and an assist. Graham notched 14 points, 3 rebounds and a steal. All three shared the Community State Bank TribCast Player of the Game and discussed the victory on the TribCast postgame.
Other scoring for Clopton: Kuntz, 11; Frank, 7; Hammett, 2.
Richards led the offense for Louisiana with 27 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal and a blocked shot.
Other scoring for Louisiana: Michael Francis, 7 points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists; Henderson, 6 points, 2 rebounds and a steal; Dalton Oberhaus, 2 points, 5 rebounds and a steal; P.J. Francis, 2 points, 2 assists and a steal; Zac Harrison, 1 point and 3 rebounds.
The Hawks will move on the the State Sectional on Wednesday, March 1 where they will take on the Elsberry Indians who won their district last week. The game will take place at 6 p.m. at Hannibal High School.
Catch all of the district games in the TribCast archive. If you can’t attend the game on Wednesday, the TribCast pregame starts at 5:45 p.m.
vs. (1) Knox County
The Hawks not only had to take down a higher seed in the championship final, they had to knock off the top-seeded Knox County Eagles in the semifinal, 56-41.
Knox County started the game off with a 14-8 first quarter over the Hawks with three treys from Noah Talton, Cory Moubry and Garyn Miller. The Hawks got a pair of baskets from Hall, and two points from both Hammett and Graham.
The Hawks came back in the second quarter, edging the Eagles 12-10 and narrowing the Knox County advantage to four points at halftime, 24-20. The Eagles continued to thrive on the three-ball with three more three-pointers in the second quarter.
While Knox still had a pair of threes in the third quarter, Clopton came out on fire outscoring the Eagles 15-8 then shut it down in the fourth, oustscoring Knox County 21-9 in the final frame.
Hall notched five points in the thrid quarter for Clopton and then got a bucket and went 6-6 from the free throw line to close out the game for the Hawks. Clopton finished 13-19 from the line for the game while Knox was just 2-7.
Hall finished the game with 19 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal to earn the Community State Bank TribCast Player of the Game.
Other scoring for Clopton: Graham had 10 points, a rebound, 2 assists and 5 steals. Talbert also scored 10 points, with a rebound, 2 assists, 2 steals and a blocked shot. Hammett finished the game with 7 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. Frank had fur points, a rebound, 4 assists and a steal. Lockard notched 4 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal. Kuntz had 2 points and 2 rebounds for the Hawks.
“These players make it tough on anyone who comes into this building and competes with us,” noted Coach Smith. “It is really something special to see when they compete with an all-out effort. These guys feed off each other.”
Opening Round vs. (5) Van-Far
Clopton also knocked off fifth-seeded Van-Far in the opening round on Tuesday night, 51-42.
The Indians outscored Van-Far13-10 in the o pening quarter with seven points from Frank and a buzzer-shot from Hall.
The Hawks kept the pressure on in the second, outscoring Van-Far 9-7 for a halftime lead of 22-16.
The Indians erased the lead in the third quarter and tied the game at 22 on a bucket by Josh Hodde. The Indians even took the lead with just over a minute to go on another bucket by Hodde. Clopton was 5-6 from the line and got field goals from Hall and Hammett to maintain a four-point lead at the end of the third quarter, 31-28. Clopton slammed the door in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Indians 20-14.
The Hawks had another strong night at the free throw line, 14-19 overall as the Indians were just 6-14.