By Jerry Holsworth - firstname.lastname@example.org
BERRYVILLE -- After being drubbed by Handley on Thursday night, Clarke County rebounded Friday to defeat Warren County, 70-59.
The win puts the Eagles at 2-1 for the week against three Group AA schools, with victories over Warren County and James Wood.
"We're very happy to get out of here with a win," Clarke County coach Brent Emmart said. "They're a very good team. That's two wins this week and I think that we're making progress."
The key quarter for Clarke County was the third, when Ethan Emmart and Todd Benton exploded for 18 of the Eagles' 27 points during the period. Emmart finished the night with 15 points, all of which came from beyond the 3-point line.
Benton, after going scoreless in the first half, scored repeatedly in the lane in the second half and finished the quarter with a three-point play to give Clarke County a comfortable 52-41 lead heading into the last eight minutes of play.
Benton's inside play also helped break up a tight zone defense by Warren County that made life miserable for the Eagles in the first half. Clarke County, which had used a slowdown approach in its game against Handley the night before, was determined to pick up the pace against the undermanned Wildcats.
Warren County's zone defense, however, made that difficult in the first half. Despite jumping ahead 2-0 to begin the game, the Eagles were victimized by eight straight points by the Wildcats and trailed 8-2 with five minutes left in the first quarter.
Emmart and backup center Jared Ramey, however, were able to turn the tables on Warren County and get the lead back. Emmart hit his first 3-pointer and Ramey followed with a pair of layups to get the Eagles to within one, 8-7 with 4:08 left in the period.
The Clarke County duo's shooting sparked an 11-2 run, but a 3-pointer by Matt Nicholson with 45 seconds left in the period tied the score 13-13.
After another basket by Nicholson gave the Wildcats the lead to begin the second quarter, Emmart countered with another 3-pointer and the Eagles, despite a determined effort by Warren County, never trailed again.
The Wildcats didn't help themselves by committing eight second-quarter turnovers, many of which resulted in easy Clarke County baskets. Warren County also shot poorly in the period, hitting only three of their 11 field goal attempts.
"I thought that we executed our defense well," Wildcats coach Vernon Matthews said. "Our problem was that we were turning the ball over too much. They ran a half-court trap and we didn't handle it very well. We're really not used to the kind of speed they bring to the game."
With Clarke County leading 25-21 at the start of the second half, another factor played against the Wildcats.
The Eagles' relentless defense and their deep bench began to wear down Warren County. Eight more third-quarter turnovers, and it was obvious that the Wildcats were beginning to run out of steam.
Warren County got one break to begin the fourth quarter. Ethan Emmart, who had drilled five of his six attempts beyond the 3-point line, fouled out with 6:37 still left in the game.
Davey Hardesty, however, stepped into the point guard position for Ethan Emmart and the Eagles never lost a beat. Hardesty, who led the Eagles in points with 16, was also 6-for-6 from the line and 4-for-4 during the final period.
"I thought the game was a lot closer than the final score indicated," Matthews said. "We just ran out of gas."
Although Warren County hit 50 percent from the field in the final period and got 3-pointers from three different players, it wasn't nearly enough to overcome the Clarke County lead.
Nicholson and Ryan Tierney led the Wildcats with 13 points apiece. Benton scored 15 points for Clarke County and Ramey also got into double figures for the night with 10.